Alcor News

Alcor News

News Blog of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation

Upcoming Team Training Sessions

The Regional Response Teams play an invaluable role by assisting Alcor in providing localized response support for their fellow cryonicists. Whether an immediate response is needed due to a member’s clinical death or assistance is needed in the event of a medical standby, team members can rightfully feel that they are helping people whose lives can no longer be maintained by current medical practices.

We encourage Alcor members and volunteers who are interested in being part of a response team to attend local training sessions. Those who want to learn more about what would happen in the event of a stabilization and transport, or just want to meet and interact with other local members, are also encouraged to attend. Upcoming meetings are as follows:

Scottsdale, AZ: On Sunday, September 27, 2009, Alcor will hold a training session for the Arizona Response Team. This will be held at Alcor Central in Scottsdale, AZ from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm.

San Jose, CA: The Northern California Response Team training has been scheduled for Saturday, October 10th and Sunday, October 11th. The hosting team leader will be Tim Freeman, however a location has yet to be determined.

Please get the word out to anyone that may be interested so that we will have strong regional teams!

To RSVP to the training sessions, please contact Aaron Drake at aaron@alcor.org or Regina Pancake at regina

Team Training

Team Training
Alcor provided a three-day training course for a team sponsored by Terasem Movement, Inc. (a 501c3 not- for- profit organization). The team, consisting of five personnel who are paramedics/firefighters from Brevard County Fire Department, traveled to the Alcor facility in Scottsdale to tour and learn the field procedures. At the conclusion of their training, they participated in a multi-hour dry run scenario for the team to better understand the flow of the skills they had learned and for Alcor to evaluate the effectiveness of its newly designed training program.

TX First Responders Training Session Postponed

The Alcor First Responders Training previously scheduled for July 25th and 26th has been postponed. However, the Cryonics Information Session will still be held on July 25th from 4:00 PM to 5:00pm at Steve Jackson Games.

The training session is now scheduled for August 29th and 30th.

Saturday, August 29th: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday, August 30th: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Location: Steve Jackson Games, 3735 Promontory Point Drive, Austin, TX 78744
RSVP: Shannon Vyff – shannonvyff@yahoo.com or (512) 673-3431

Team Training

Team Training
Plans are in the works to re-establish the Arizona team. The team will meet on a regular basis to not only provide team member training but also to train the professional team that will support the different regional teams.

Also, the survey sent out in May, 2009, regarding individuals interested in becoming team members in your area was sent to about 500-600 members with email addresses.

A. Drake stated that they have received 71 responses so far.

First Responders Training at Alcor Facility

Alcor plans to start a series of regular training sessions that will be held at Alcor up to six times a year, beginning with three during the remainder of this year. The first of these free training weekends for first responders will be on the weekend of June 13th and 14th 2009 at the Alcor facility in Scottsdale Arizona. This training is open to anyone who would like participate for the two days. We only have room for fifteen people, so please RSVP early to Regina Pancake, Alcor’s Readiness Coordinator, at Regina@alcor.org to hold your spot.

The Alcor transport team will still be traveling to perform training in regions where we have first responder teams in place already. However as the community of cryonicists near Alcor grows, it makes sense to have training sessions for our local population of members. Those who are interested may also travel to Scottsdale to attend these sessions if they wish.

Laughlin Training

On May 4th and 5th, Alcor’s transport team did a two day training in Laughlin Nevada for the casino owner’s security detail who are tasked with being Don Laughlin’s personal first responders in the event of his legal death. The Alcor team trainers, Aaron Drake, Todd Huffman and Regina Pancake set up stations for the employees to experience hands-on all the equipment that is utilized. After running everyone through the various processes and underlying theory, the Alcor staff members on the second day worked out several scenarios that would work with the help of the eleven security employees who volunteered for this duty.

The team then did a timed walk through of an actual transport from within the casino. It began with placing our mannequin (Manny) in one of Mr. Laughlin’s penthouse suites, and went through all the way to how to get the ice bath/thumper unit onto the Lear jet. It was a straightforward exercise, and all that were involved rolled with the variables that any scenario of this nature can throw at a team. In the end, they now have a working ice bath/thumper unit deployed to their region, and all the new individuals on the Riverside Casino team feel much more competent in performing this service for their employer if it comes to that on their watch.

Update on Recent Progress

When the Alcor management changed in September 2005 to the current team, we developed a new policy of not talking about what grand plans we have for the organization, instead choosing to talk about things that we have completed. We implemented this policy change because the management team (consisting of Steve Van Sickle, Jennifer Chapman, and myself) were disappointed members. We were all weary of the empty promises, the distinct lack of improvement in technical capability and the lack of responsible fiscal oversight. We very deliberately set out to rebuild Alcor into an organization of which we could be proud, and we were enthusiastic about bringing positive change. Though it is a lengthy process, in my opinion we are succeeding, and we’d like to present a little perspective on the changes of late and on the challenges yet ahead.

Read More

Operations and Training

Stabilization Kits
Stabilization kits are a most important part of Alcor equipment. These are kits
that are shipped ahead whenever a member may need a stand-by and contain
the medications and equipment needed stabilize and transport a member in
the event of his legal death. Some of them are prepositioned with local and
regional team leaders, giving them the ability to operate independently and
saving us the time of shipping in the event of an emergency.

We are implementing an overhaul of our stabilization kits. It has involved
scrutinizing every piece of gear in the kits, and reorganizing the way
each of the separate boxes are organized. (There are seven total for field
deployment presently.) In reviewing the equipment and supplies, the amount
of redundancy, the deployment by function (airway, blood washout,
medications, etc.) we have determined that there is significant
consolidation that can be done. Our upcoming stabilization kits are being
reduced to four containers, still appropriate for airline travel.

A prototype of the first three boxes was assembled by Michelle Fry, and
we’re lacking only to test them in a realistic scenario or standby
situation. Once tested for completeness, the new kits can be assembled for
deployment.

As part of preparing these kits for deployment in all the regions, we’ve
begun the process of developing comprehensive inventories, with price
structure and supplier information, as part of our internal inventory and
cash flow management. This includes knowing what consumable supplies will
be used and what capital investment is required in each part of the kit.
Maintaining the stabilization kits is not easy, when kits get shipped out
at different times, medications have varied dates of expiration, and new
equipment or supplies get added to the protocol. We’re hoping that by
starting all the regions out with fresh, and identical, kits, our
inventory management will be both more efficient and more effective for
readiness and clinical use.

This project is having an additional benefit, in that it helps with the
development of an outline for the new stabilization manual that we hope to
begin writing next year.

Training Update
Since the last report, Michelle Fry held a training session in northern
California. Course curriculum in both places included our standard
biohazard and communicable disease lecture, airway management (including
Combi-tube), medications, intraosseous IV placement training, and manual
cardiopulmonary support practice.

Our next stabilization training session will be held in Boca Raton,
Florida in January 2007. For more information, contact dbora@alcor.org.

An Update on Recent Progress

Earlier this year, Alcor engaged in some long-term organizational planning. The result was the drafting of a three-year plan for development. Our plan broke operations into four main categories: membership, clinical readiness, research and technical development. It considered strategic positioning and facility improvements that would be necessary to transitioning Alcor from a small start-up into an organization that is capable of surviving successful outreach and mass marketing.

During the development of this plan, technical aspects had to be looked at in detail, because they affected nearly every department. Dr. Mike Perry, Alcor Patient Caretaker, prepared an analysis of the current membership and mortality statistics in an attempt to estimate the requirements for performing cryopreservation procedures at various membership growth rates. (See Cryonics, Spring 2006, for a brief summary of that analysis.) Dr. Perry’s analysis told us that we would face significant challenges if the membership grew faster than the technical capability could handle. His results encouraged us to hone our commitment to improving the foundations of our emergency response capability, in terms of both equipment and personnel. Once that infrastructure is in place, then we can consider improving the membership aspects and engaging in directed marketing.

Though the three-year plan itself will not be released in full because it was intended as an internal planning document (and will likely be subject to significant modification as time passes), we intend to update our members and supporters on elements that have been implemented or are being implemented in the near-term.

Research and Development
Aside from our standard administrative tasks and special projects like the conference, our time has mostly been spent on engineering improvements for the cryopreservation processes. We have begun automating collection of data during the cryopreservation process and control of the perfusion process, and this has necessarily included acquiring new equipment. In addition to progress made on those projects, we’ve needed to add a couple of items for the improvement of patient stabilization processes.

We’ve built a prototype of a partial liquid ventilation system for rapid cooling while performing cardiopulmonary support during a patient stabilization. Partial liquid ventilation is a process involving the introduction of a cooled, oxygenated liquid into the lungs, where the massive surface area can facilitate extremely rapid cooling. It’s partial ventilation, because the oxygen-carrying capacity of the fluid is insufficient to support metabolism, and so a patient has to have additional oxygen support.

Our mechanical system for partial liquid ventilation will allow us to cool patients during the critical first-minutes of the stabilization procedure, a vital capability that has the potential to drastically improve a patient’s overall cryopreservation. This system is expected to provide nearly the cooling rate of the blood washout, at an estimated half degree C per minute, with none of the invasive surgery or time delays. The prototype has now been submitted as Alcor’s first patent and is based on earlier work done at Critical Care Research. It is simpler to deploy, requires significantly less training to operate, is less expensive, and considerably more portable than any other device patented for this purpose.

We’ve also nearly completed a re-design of the portable ice bath (PIB), a lightweight bathtub on wheels which enables a patient to be cooled with ice and treated while being moved, such as in a hospital setting. The new design is based on an idea by Michelle Fry and was built by Randal Fry (with the help of Diane Cremeens). Our previous PIB was one of the least efficient pieces of our stabilization kit, and our new design should meet the requirements of being portable, easy to assemble, and capable of whole-body cooling. It should provide for more weight-carrying capacity than previous versions and has the bonus benefit of being able to go over curbs or a couple small steps and other surfaces, like grass, significantly improving our mobility. Once the design and testing of this ice bath are complete, we intend to replace all previous versions in the field. (We may actually build a couple extra units, because a local fire chief has expressed an interest in using one for their remote rescues and donating one to their cause would be good for community relations.)

Our research team is working hard on the development of a cardiopulmonary bypass laboratory. This development is important to beginning comprehensive testing of every aspect of the cryopreservation procedure, from the impact of different cooling methods or medications to the advantages and disadvantages of various cryoprotectants. Using our cardiopulmonary bypass laboratory, we intend to replicate the total body washout experiments performed by Cryovita and Alcor in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the rat model. We have acquired most of the equipment necessary to establish the model, and the protocols are being drafted for experimentation. Setting up the perfusion system has been the most complicated factor, and Chana Williford, Alcor’s Research Associate, has developed a design that seems likely to avoid one of the major problems of rat perfusion: priming volumes. This volume reflects the amount of fluid contained within the perfusion circuit, and should be as low as possible. Her circuit has an extremely small priming volume, and the design alone should be publishable in scientific journals if it holds up under scrutiny.

Intermediate temperature storage is something else we’re working toward and has been discussed for some time, but it is important to mention that providing long-term care of patients at higher temperatures, like -140 degrees C, does not actually eliminate fracturing in patients. We believe annealing, a process whereby strain can be relieved in glassy materials through raising and lowering temperature in a controlled fashion, may be the solution to eliminating fracturing in patients.

In order to test that hypothesis, we have completed construction on a prototype annealing test cell that will allow us to investigate the physics of fractures in our patients. We intend to begin testing our cryoprotectant next week. If this prototype is effective for its intended purpose, we will replicate it to allow for multiple samples to be processed during fracture experiments. Our hope is that we can develop a reliable protocol for minimizing – or even eliminating – fractures in our patients. This work is expected to take some time, as learning how to cool a pure cryoprotectant (our first step in the lab after building the equipment) is very different from learning how to cool a complex organ system.

In many ways, our research and development program is being built up from nothing. Lack of focus, changes in personnel and lack of serious commitment all contributed to poor development in technical areas in the past. Rather than leading the drive for improved cryopreservations, we were relying on external organizations for research and largely languished in areas of development. We have begun to repair this serious deficit and intend for the new research and development efforts to aid in our goal of becoming recognized as a serious scientific research organization.

Clinical Readiness
Our new operating room has been assembled and is prepared to perform two cryopreservations simultaneously, one whole-body preservation and one neuropreservation. There are, however, two pieces of equipment that are not duplicated between the stations: the chiller (which provides cooling for the perfusion circuit) and the computer control system. We are not planning to duplicate the chiller, because it will be insufficient in the near-term to reach the depths of cooling that we have in mind for the new operating room table. The computer control system is being significantly re-designed; and once the new system is built and tested, that is the one we will replicate. Computer control will allow us to monitor more directly every aspect of the cryoprotection process; and alarms will be set to inform us when critical milestones are reached or if there are failures in the system. Aspects of the cryopreservation to monitor will include, but are not limited to, perfusion pressures, vascular resistance, cryoprotectant uptake and water loss, temperatures (naturally), and flow rates. This should allow for more comprehensive analysis of future cryopreservation cases.

Improving the emergency stabilization kits is also well-underway. We’ve designed a smaller version of the remote kit that will be more widely deployed, especially into new regions. This small kit will ensure the capability to administer surface cooling, cardiopulmonary support, and medications. It will not include washout capability at this time, as the more remote regions do not yet have personnel trained to carry out a washout procedure. The washout capability will arrive with Alcor personnel, in case of an emergency. Once the new kit has been tested in a field situation, then we will deploy it more widely. We intend to build twelve of these smaller kits, deploying them to places like New England, Nevada and Texas as supplements to fuller kits like the ones stored in California.

Expanding the field capability also requires training more emergency response personnel across the country and world. This expansion of the training schedule is well-underway. In 2006, we expanded training to include several regions, like Texas, Florida, and the United Kingdom. In 2007, we’re coordinating expansion to include Australia, New England, eastern and western Canada, and the Pacific Northwest. This will be in conjunction with the existing regions. Because this expansion will place a strain on personnel and training equipment, we’re strongly encouraging emergency response team members in the regions to gather periodically between Alcor-attended sessions, to review the training materials and practice the skills, and to contact Alcor when questions arise. Teams are responding well to this encouragement, and new people are contacting us nearly every week for training opportunities in their area.

And in Conclusion….
Much of this progress to date has been made possible because of the success of our matching grant earlier this year. It is still the case that the three-year plan is ambitious and will take significantly longer than three years to implement if additional funding is not obtained. We are cautiously optimistic about our chances for securing the necessary funding, because we’re improving our reputation for fiscal management; adhering to the financial controls that were set in place late last year; showing consistent progress on projects; and basically, sticking to the business at hand.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we have a good staff that is fully capable of handling the load. We’re pleased with the progress that has recently occurred, and we intend to keep the momentum going. Developing the plan has helped hone our focus on the things that matter, and everyone on the staff has great ideas on how to continue improving our procedures.

Needless to say, we’re excited about the current direction Alcor is headed, though we’re fully aware that there is still a tremendous amount to do. We hope you’ll stay tuned and see how this all develops.

Northern California Team Training

Saturday, November 11th and Sunday, November 12th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Are you curious about what happens when an Alcor Emergency Response Team is called into action?

You are invited to observe or participate in our 2006 Northern California training session. Instruction will be provided by members of the Alcor readiness and transport team.

The purpose of this training session is to teach people interested in learning about or joining the emergency first response team for the Northern California region.

There will be presentations of the emergency techniques and procedures employed by Alcor’s first responders and mannequins will be provided for hands-on practice.

If you are interested in participating in the training session to become an Alcor Certified Transport Technician or would just like to observe and meet Alcor representatives and other members, please RSVP to Michelle Fry.

RSVP TO:
Michelle Fry
* michelle@alcor.org
* 877/462-5267 ext 104

INFORMAL DINNER
There will also be an informal dinner after the training session on Saturday, November 11th which is open to anyone interested in meeting other Alcor members. The location for the dinner will be announced at Saturday’s training session.