New portable ultrasound may help first responders save lives

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A new, portable ultrasound may help emergency medical workers save lives.

Emergency medical workers provide the best care possible when they pick up patients and transport them to hospitals, but they lack the sophisticated hospital equipment required to diagnose internal injuries.

"And in the pre-hospital environment, which basically means we take care of the patient before they reach the hospital, we go on mechanism of injury and our suspicion," said Alfonso Ochoa, a flight nurse with South Texas Air Med.

A new, portable ultrasound called the Butterfly iQ will provide Ochoa with a way to diagnose internal injuries in the field.

"This is just an extra tool in our toolbox — that we can actually confirm if a life-threatening condition does exist. And we can let the hospital know so they can be better prepared," Ochoa said, adding later: "It actually makes a difference when seconds count."

Images from the portable ultrasound can be sent to doctors at the hospital before the patient arrives.

"For example, if you have a motor vehicle accident, that patient will have an ultrasound in the field and they can diagnose if the patient may have an internal organ injury or bleeding," said Dr. Carlos Garcia-Cantu of DHR Health.

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