Ute Pass Regional Paramedic Services, along with Southwest Teller EMS and Manitou Springs Fire Department/EMS, are the first in the nation to implement new treatment for head-injured patients.
Under the medical direction of Dr. Jeremy DeWall, the three agencies have begun using Tranexamic Acid (TXA) for the treatment of traumatic brain-injured patients. After the release of a study titled “CRASH-3,” it was determined that TXA was not only safe for treatment of traumatic brain injured patients but also boasted a 20% increase in survivability.
“This was a huge study in several countries over the course of seven years,” said Dave Hansher, deputy chief of Ute Pass Paramedic Services, part of Ute Pass Health Service District. “We wasted no time to add that in our protocols and guidelines and on our ambulances, to have it ready to go.”
According to a press release from the district, TXA is a medication used in treating heavy bleeding and has historically been prescribed in hospitals to combat gastrointestinal bleeding, heavy menstruation and involved dental surgery.
From 2002 through this year, TXA has been the subject of several research studies to test its safety for use in acute heavy bleeding in the pre-hospital setting. TXA was progressively integrated into the same local EMS agencies last year as a treatment for severe bleeding due to trauma and pregnancy but was excluded in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries until the study was published, states the release.
“We think it’s important for the people in our area to have confidence that, should they meet with an unfortunate incident that involves an ambulance, they know that our ambulance is on the cutting edge,” Hansher said.
Research shows that medication has to be given within the first three hours of a brain injury, Hansher said. “With a back country call, or weather-related, it’s not unheard of for three hours to pass before we can get them to a hospital. To be able to do that in the field is the revolutionary part of this.”
In a place known for attracting sports vehicles such as snowmobiles, 4-Wheelers, motorcycles and ATVs, the new treatment is groundbreaking for the region.
“Collectively, we run about 130 to 150 head-injury calls a year,” Hansher said. “Even if half of those people met the criteria for severity, for which the threshold is fairly low, we could improve the long-term survivability just in our community by the possibility of 20 or 30 people.”
While the paramedics have not yet used the medication for patients suffering traumatic brain injuries, they have successfully used the TXA to treat other types of hemorrhage-related injuries, Hansher said.
“It’s a team effort; there’s a lot of good leadership in our area. Even on a national scale, we’re in the lead, running with the lead pack as far as innovation and progressive medicine and what we’re able to bring to our patients,” Hansher said. “We’re not just tucked back in the woods somewhere, doing what we have to do. Our three agencies are leaders in the field nationally.”