The #FOAMed Airway

I’ll be the first to admit it, I take my airway skills for granted! I assume they’ll always just be there when my patient needs them, that they’ll never fail me at a critical juncture.

Like, when my patient is crashing and can’t maintain their own airway – You know, important moments like that.

This feeling of comfortable airway competency has been a mainstay for me for quite some time, it allowed me to sleep at night and fumble my way through many a call. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sunk my fair share of endotracheal tubes, enough to convince me of my competence with the skill at least.

Then I moved to a “slower” station, opportunities for intubation became fewer and further apart – Doubt about my ability creeped in as each shift without a tube marched on. During this period two new pieces of airway kit were introduced into our arsenal, the bougie and King LT SGA respectively. This was nice, but did little to mitigate my airway apprehension. In fact I think it made it a little bit worse – Suddenly there was more to know, another practical skill set to master and very little instruction provided to help me along!

Into my fog of confusion came a strange light in the form of a twitter hashtag, #FOAMed. At first I was confused by this hashtag as it appeared on tweets that appeared to be from doctors and other health care types. I briefly wondered what foam parties had to do with medicine…

Then I came across this site which explained everything in a clear, concise manner and with a great deal of enthusiasm. From it I also learned that #FOAMed is an acronym for Free Open Access Meducation – Very clever!

I became very excited as I realized what this find meant for me in my little paramedic station in Ontario, Canada – There was an entire cadre of health care professionals pumping out relevant, well written and insightful posts about the very topics that were causing me so much worry!

Win!

What could make this any better? The opportunity to interact with the authors of this material directly, and a strong likelihood they would respond! All that I needed to do was follow along on twitter using the #FOAMed hashtag and read the many blogs referenced within the tweets.

As for my airway jitters and bougie blues? I tamed them by learning about the Kiwi Grip here and watching the excellent airway cam videos here!

I eagerly followed the conversations Dr. Minh Le Cong, of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, had with his many colleagues via his twitter account (@rfdsdoc)). The amount of information from these sources alone was staggering!

There are many paramedics contributing to the #FOAMed phenomenon, and they’re welcomed as valuable contributors with a unique perspective to share. I’ve recently come across this #FOAMed themed blog, written by a paramedic from a paramedic’s perspective.

I can’t begin to do justice to this movement in this one blog post, but I encourage my colleagues of all levels (especially students) to explore this new horizon on their own as it will enhance your practice and increase your comfort by leaps and bounds. The best parts? It’s fun, it’s convenient (you can access this on almost any device), it’s interactive and seemingly endless in scope!

I’d like to think that by introducing this phenomenon to as many paramedics as I can, that I’ll be giving back a little of what I’ve gained from it so far. My intention is to post as regularlyly as I can on the subject, highlighting interesting things I’ve come across, opinions I’ve formed as a result and any other topics I come up with.

Anyway, it’s late and I’ve prattled on enough – I hope that I have inspired you to hop on the #FOAMed train and journey with me wherever it may take us!

Stay Safe!