Front desk and triage staff should be aware of presenting conditions that require immediate evaluation by a veterinarian. They are listed in the Primary Survey Initial Triage and Resuscitation of Small Animal Emergency Patients Slightly cyanotic (purple or muddy)-appearing mucous membranes in a dog with a partial airway obstruction. Pale mucous membranes in a dog. Normal, pink mucous membranes in a dog. Triage is the... read more section of Evaluation and Initial Treatment of the Emergency Patient Evaluation and Initial Treatment of Small Animal Emergency Patients .
All members of the veterinary team must be familiar with the ready area and location of all necessary emergency equipment and medications.
Regular drills should be organized for emergency situations such as cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA) with subsequent CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation of Small Animals The success of CPR depends on many factors, including the underlying cause of the arrest, the timeliness and effectiveness of the intervention, and the preparedness of the team administering... read more efforts to ensure everyone knows their role and to improve techniques. An emergency treatment or “crash” cart should contain materials necessary to perform CPR and/or institute other emergency therapy.
A ready area includes:
multiparameter monitor (ECG, ETCO2, BP, SpO2 , +/- invasive monitoring)
IV and/or IO catheter supplies (clippers, aseptic scrub, tape, catheters of various sizes)
crash cart (see below)
oxygen supply with masks, humidifier
+/- oxygen cages with environmental oxygen, CO2, humidity and temperature monitors
suction with Yankaur and whistle-tip suction attachments
materials to collect blood (syringes, blood tubes, etc)
IV fluids, sets, pumps, pressure bag, etc
access to rapid-acting injectable anesthetic agents
supplies for centesis (needles or catheters, IV sets, three-way stopcock, syringe, and bowls)
patient transport and restraint materials (muzzles, blankets, gurney)
tools to warm or cool a patient (circulating water blankets, warm air blower, IV fluid warmer, fans, etc)
Crash cart contents:
endotracheal tubes of various sizes
laryngoscope with various sizes of blades
syringes of different sizes with 18- or 20-gauge needles attached
CPR drugs (minimally, epinephrine and atropine; additionally, reversal agents [atipamezole, flumazenil, naloxone], lidocaine, amiodarone, vasopressin, etc may be considered)
oxygen and a small and large bag-valve-mask apparatus or other ready access to oxygen (such as an anesthetic machine flushed free of anesthetic gas)
suction unit with sterile Yankaur and whistle-tip suction attachments
defibrillator with gel, internal and external paddles
CPR drug dosage charts and algorithm sheets
thoracostomy kit including sterile gloves, Mayo scissors, scalpel, Finochietto retractors, vascular clamps, large curved hemostats, red rubber or other materials for a modified Rummel tourniquet, etc
The golden rule of emergency medicine is to treat the most life-threatening problems first.
Therapy must be implemented at the right time, in the right amount, and in the right order.
Patients, when stable, should be closely monitored for progression or resolution of disease or possible complications of therapy for the underlying disease.
Owners can be instructed to initiate basic first aid before transport.
Stocking and maintaining a "ready area" and crash cart is crucial for successful management of patients.
Analgesia should be administered when appropriate.
For More Information
Also see pet health content regarding emergency care for dogs and cats Emergency Care for Dogs and Cats Emergency care begins with your call to the veterinarian. Be prepared to describe the emergency situation. Your veterinarian may instruct you on how to administer first aid and how to safely... read more and emergency care for horses Emergency Care for Horses Equine emergencies can be challenging for veterinarians and emotionally charged for owners. Preparation before an emergency occurs is key. Discuss the best facilities for treatment with your... read more .