In the list of items that might be on your shopping list today I doubt very much that Emergency Oxygen is listed. The interesting conundrum we find ourselves is that as populations continue to rise our reliance on government provided services increases and always seems to lag behind. Take the recently published article “Two Home Invasions, Two Families Who Waited on Hold With 911” in the Voice of San Diego, May 2, 2016. You can read the entire article by clicking the following link: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/all-narratives/police-tag/two-home-invasions-two-families-who-waited-on-hold-with-911/ – It starts “When Pamela Kennedy heard the flower pot on her window sill break, she froze. It was 3:30 a.m. and an intruder was in her home. The 60-year-old nurse said she eventually made her voice as deep as possible and yelled, “What’s going on out there?” Then she called 911. The city’s emergency response system froze,”
The reason for this blog is to help you be better prepared to take matters into your own hands and have some control over your own or others around you fate. We are not bashing first responders or other public service providers. It is merely a numbers game and one where we never seem to catch up.
Here is a list of questions commonly asked about Emergency Oxygen;
1.) Why is supplemental oxygen so important during a medical emergency? Life-threatening medical emergencies are usually accompanied by low tissue oxygen levels (not enough oxygen to tissue and organs). If this progresses, the brain will begin to die first, with other organs following. Additionally, low oxygen levels to the heart may lead to cardiac arrest. After AIRWAY, supplemental oxygen is the most important first step in treatment.
2.) Who should receive emergency medical oxygen? ANY victim of a potentially life-threatening illness or injury – without exception.
3.) How is emergency oxygen employed? For the victim who is breathing, emergency oxygen via a mask increases the oxygen concentration of the inhaled air. For the victim who requires rescue breathing, emergency oxygen fed into a CPR mask enriches the oxygen concentration of the breath being blown into the victim by the rescuer. In either case, the amount of oxygen available to the victim is greatly increased.
4.) When should emergency oxygen be started? Oxygen should be started IMMEDIATELY AFTER a clear and open AIRWAY is established. However, if there is a delay retrieving the oxygen unit and CPR is required, conventional mouth-to-mouth (or mouth-to-barrier) rescue breathing should be performed until the oxygen unit is available.
5.) Can oxygen ever be harmful during a medical emergency? Oxygen is NEVER harmful during a medical emergency. It increases the likelihood of a better outcome for the victim. The potential harmful effects of oxygen occur after prolonged use (more than 5 hours). The medical literature and publications now state that oxygen DOES NOT suppress respiratory drive (in COPD), and is important to almost all victims of sudden life-threatening illness or injury.
6.) Will emergency oxygen substitute for rescue breathing? NO! In the non-breathing victim, application of oxygen without rescue breathing will not benefit the victim. It must be coupled to the rescue breathing via a CPR mask.
7.) Is oxygen still needed after the arrest victim revives from CPR?/AED? YES! Oxygen should be continued until the EMS arrives. Maintaining oxygen on the revived victim may prevent relapse into cardio-respiratory arrest.
8.) Is oxygen still needed after the victim who is breathing improves or “recovers”? Yes, Oxygen should be continued until the EMS arrives. Maintaining oxygen on the apparently improved or recovered victim may prevent lapse into cardio-respiratory arrest.
9.) Will emergency oxygen substitute for the Heimlich Maneuver ? No. The airway must be cleared of the obstructing food or object. Oxygen alone will not help the victim. Once the obstruction is cleared (A=AIRWAY), oxygen should be applied to aid in recovery.
10.) If I am not sure whether the victim is breathing, should I perform rescue breathing or should I put the oxygen mask on the victim and wait and see what happens? If it is unclear whether or not the victim is breathing, start rescue breathing (preferably with emergency oxy-gen). By responding in this manner, you will not harm the person if he/she is breathing. Do not just put the oxygen mask on and “wait and see”. If they are not breathing or breathing inadequately they may deteriorate to full arrest without rescue breathing.
11.) If the victim has not had a respiratory or cardiac arrest but appears to have difficulty breathing, should I apply emergency oxygen? YES. If the victim has labored breathing, applying emergency oxygen is one of the most important responses you can make to potentially prevent an arrest.
12.) If the victim cannot tolerate the oxygen mask on his/her face, what should I do? Hold the mask just adjacent to the face. Most of the oxygen will still get into the victim’s mouth and nose.
13.) Does emergency oxygen require a doctor’s prescription? NO. Oxygen is a drug when it is given in concentrations beyond what is in ambient air and when used for medical treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulating government agency for medical oxygen, requires a prescription, but has EXEMPTED this requirement for emergency applications. For all other medical applications, Rx Only”. In order to be considered as an over-the-counter (OTC) device, i.e., “non-prescription”, the oxygen delivery system must provide a minimum flow rate of 6 liters per minute for a minimum of 15 minutes.
14.) Who can provide emergency oxygen? Anyone properly instructed in its use. Providers should be familiar with the manufacturer’s directions and instructional materials. A course in first aid oxygen administration is encouraged.
15.) What are the legal requirements for maintaining a LifefloTM OTC emergency oxygen unit? Unlike oxygen cylinders LifefloTM OTC Emergency Oxygen units require no ongoing maintenance or recertification. When the expiration date is reached discard per the instructions provided with your device.
16.) Is oxygen dangerous? Can’t it catch fire and explode? Oxygen does not “catch fire” or explode. It supports and accelerates existing combustion. It is contained in a protective bag while being generated with safety features built-in. Oxygen is perfectly safe when properly handled and used for life saving.
17.) How much oxygen should I have on-hand? A good rule of thumb is to determine what the average EMS response time is to your facility and have enough to last twice as long as the response time. In most circumstances, a 30 to 45 minute supply is sufficient.
18.) Does OSHA have any specific regulations regarding emergency oxygen? NO. There are no special instructions or record keeping required.
19.) Is oxygen covered under the Good Samaritan laws? Yes, emergency oxygen administration is considered first aid and is therefore covered under the Good Samaritan Laws.
20.) If I am not sure whether to give emergency oxygen, what should I do? GIVE IT! It is far better to over-use it than to under-use it and miss an opportunity. Remember, it is not harmful and my save a life and/or a brain!