Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance to Use Essential Oils

For the 2,220 square miles and 150,000 people Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance serves, not all their calls are life or death.

That is why Tri-State Ambulance is introducing essential oils as an alternative for patients.

"There's nothing that we've removed from the ambulances as far as treatments for the conditions or situations that we are using the essential oils for. It's really more to kind of create a more pleasant environment and maybe a better opportunity for them to feel better from whatever it is that's ailing them," said Tri-State Ambulance Operations Supervisor Clinical Services Nick Eastman.

Gundersen Health System has been using the oils in their hospital for several years.

Tri-State Ambulance first had discussions last year about using essential oils in the field for patients.

"When we look ahead at the opioid crisis, even though there's no evidence that a single ambulance trip with delivery of an opioid pain medicine is actually contributing to the likelihood of someone becoming addicted, it's simply one of those opportunities that we were looking at to give less opioids," said Eastman.

Tri-State Ambulance has six different oils, with scents ranging from Lemon to Ginger.

"The delivery method is inhalation primarily. We do have one oil that can be topical as well, but basically, it's one or two drops on a cotton ball and then we tape that to the patient’s chest," Eastman said.

Eastman said it is usually to help people who are experiencing mild pain, anxiety or nausea.

In the past, Tri-State would give people small doses of opioids for those symptoms.

"There's very clear evidence actually in regard to the relationship between scents and mood and behavior, and so we can say that we know that patients will have a better experience, or we believe that patients will have a better experience," said Eastman.

Eastman said the oils will be given only if a patient requests them.

He hopes to have every ambulance equipped with the oils by next week.

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