Paramedic Stew Schmidt displays ITClamp, a device to stop bleeding in trauma. He was the first one to use the new device at Hobbema, and was displaying it at a medical conference in Memphis in May, 2013
EDMONTON – Even before the Edmonton-designed innovative trauma clamp was set for widespread field trials, Stew Schmidt of the Muskwachees ambulance service based in Hobbema had one. And he had occasion to use it.
“In April I had a patient with a bleeding scalp from an assault. This type of bleeding is hard to control, so I used the clamp and it worked perfectly. We took the patient to hospital,” he said from Memphis, where he was demonstrating the clamp to professionals on Friday at a hemorrhage control conference.
Dr. Denis Filips, Innovative Trauma Care’s founder and chief executive — and a former military surgeon with battlefield experience — said this is the first reported case of the new clamp used in the field, but he expects he will be flooded with more stories soon.
“While it is approved for use in Canada, Europe and just last week in the U.S. when it received its FDA clearance, we are just getting the distribution underway,” Filips said from Memphis.
Edmonton region ambulances and STARS Air Ambulances will be getting the clamps within the next few weeks, after staff training is completed, and this will be the largest field trial, said Filips.
“While they are approved, we didn’t have a Canadian distributor, but we expect to get the clamps into the hands of medical people across Canada this summer.”
The reports from the field will be used by the firm’s Edmonton head office and research lab to design improvements and expand the line of products.
Filips said the clamps can stop any bleeding, and the fact that the first case involved a scalp laceration was interesting.
“Arteries under the scalp do no retract and stop bleeding, so once you get bleeding there it continues to pump and can be very deceptive. You think it is not too bad, but after a couple of hours you have to deal with a person who has lost a lot of blood and is in shock,” he said. “A patient could die because these kinds of situations are often hidden under hair, or the patient is lying on sheets which absorb the blood.”
But the clamp, which Filip calls the “three-second solution,” will allow anyone to self-treat or treat another person quickly. The device comes in a sterile container resembling a mouthguard holder. Opening the container and applying the clamp takes three seconds.
The clamp won the top innovation for 2012 by EMS World magazine earlier this year and praise from Mike Smith, a member of the magazine’s editorial advisory board.
“I know of no other device with the versatility and capabilities of the ITClamp Hemorrhage Control System. Using a revered term that I reserve for the most unique devices, the ITClamp is a stunning example of elegant simplicity — almost immediate fluid-tight and airtight wound closure, with a two-inch device,” Smith said.
The ITClamp works by sealing the skin closed to create a temporary pool of blood under pressure, which forms a stable clot until the wound can be surgically repaired.
ITC expects its sales to skyrocket, and expects every ambulance and emergency room in North America and Europe will soon have the clamps. The devices are made in the Caribbean to U.S. standards. While founded and headquartered in Edmonton, ITC opened its global commercialization operations in San Antonio, Texas last year.