South Georgia Medical Center’s Mobile Healthcare Services will be the first ambulance service in Georgia to go live with the administration of pre-hospital antibiotics for patients that are symptomatic with sepsis. Sepsis is a medical emergency. Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly cause tissue damage, organ failure and death.According to EMS Chief David Bauch, sepsis occurs when an infection you already have – in your skin, lungs, urinary tract or somewhere else – triggers a chain reaction throughout your body. When it causes organs to fail, it is called severe sepsis. When it is accompanied by low blood pressure, it is called septic shock and carries the highest risk of death and complications.“Because we are trained to identify sepsis and begin antibiotics in the field, patients may receive needed medications earlier than if we wait to diagnose at the hospital,” Bauch said. “Even an hour can mean the difference between life and death.”Chief Bauch says there is no single symptom of sepsis. Symptoms can include a combination of the following: confusion or disorientation; shortness of breath; high heart rate; fever, shivering or feeling very cold; extreme pain or discomfort; and/or clammy or sweaty skin.While sepsis is more likely to affect very young children, older adults, people with chronic diseases, and those with a weakened immune system, sepsis is an equal-opportunity killer impacting people of all ages and levels of health.SGMC’s EMS received 43 possible sepsis calls between 02/01/2018 – 04/08/2018. Five sepsis alerts were called between 02/01/2018 – 04/08/2018 due to patients’ meeting the protocol of suspected infection and having three or more of the criteria on the sepsis guidelines.Chief Bauch urges individuals to get medical help immediately if you have an infection that is getting worse.“Pneumonia, flu, chicken pox, urinary-tract infections can all lead to sepsis,” Bauch explains. “According to the Sepsis Alliance, every two minutes someone dies from sepsis in the U.S. – that’s more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined.”SGMC’s Chief Operating Officer Dr. David Schott praised the hospital for its aggressive implementation of this protocol. “SGMC began an active awareness campaign to identify and treat sepsis in 2014. In 2015, SGMC received the Georgia Hospital Association’s Community Leadership Award for our efforts. Being the first in Georgia to implement the pre-hospital antibiotic protocol is consistent with SGMC’s commitment to aggressively treat this potentially life-threatening disease.”SGMC EMS began carrying the needed antibiotics in their drug boxes on April 15. For more information, visit the website www.sepsis.org.