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Airway Assessment Wes Ogilvie, MPA, JD, NREMT-P/LP iStockphoto Introduction One of the recurring controversies in EMS, especially for advanced providers, revolves around the use of various airway management options, particularly intubation. Regardless of skill or certification level, though, the ability to assess a patient’s airway is a critical skill, whether in placing a basic airway adjunct or in making the decision to perform a surgical airway. Just as there are indications and contraindications to giving medications, there can be indications and contraindications for certain airway management tools. The goal of this article is to familiarize the EMS provider with some tools to recognize potential airway management indications and contraindications. Scenario The local communications center assigns the local fire department first 24 Texas EMS Magazine March/April 2012 responders and the closest advanced life support ambulance to a high priority respiratory call. When firefighters arrive on scene, they find a 68-year-old male patient who presents with two-word dyspnea. The patient is obese (well over 300 pounds), wears dentures and has a heavy beard. As the lead firefighter/EMT auscultates the patient’s lung sounds, he notes that the lung sounds are nearly silent in all fields. Another firefighter/ EMT checks the patient’s medications and finds an Albuterol nebulizer as well as an empty inhaler of Singulair. The patient’s wife confirms that he has been diagnosed ...
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