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Erlanger Fire/EMS recognized by AHA with Gold Plus Award for treatment of heart-attack patients

The Erlanger Fire/EMS Department has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

The department is only one of seven in Kentucky to receive the award for its excellence in detecting and treating people suffering from ST Elevation Myocardial Infarctions (STEMI).

“STEMI is one of the most serious types of heart attacks because that means that one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked,” said Fire/EMS Chief Todd Whitaker. “People suffering from this type of cardiac event require timely treatment and quick transportation to an appropriate medical facility to provide for the best possible outcome.”

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience STEMI. In these types of heart attacks, Whitaker said it’s critical for medical personnel to restore blood flow as quickly as possible either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel with a stent or by providing clot-busting medication.

“The role of EMS personnel in the care for these patients in the earliest moments is crucial and often sets the course for the patient’s outcome,” Whitaker said. “We must quickly identify, treat, and transport these patients to save their lives and the way we do this is by administering and interpreting12-lead EKGs (electrocardiograms).”

By placing electrodes or small, sticky patches on the chest, wrists, and ankles of patients, the 12-lead EKG paints a complete picture of the heart’s electrical activity by recording information through 12 different perspectives. Think of it as 12 different points of view of an object woven together to create a cohesive story — the EKG interpretation.

The Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart-attack care that follow protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.

Among the criteria the initiative considers in determining whether Fire/EMS departments are worthy of its “Gold Plus” Award, the organization evaluates the following:

-The percentage of patients over 35 years of age who were experience cardiac symptoms received a 12-lead EKG.
-The percentage patients whose 12-lead EKGs displayed a heart attack were transmitted to the hospital and the hospital’s receiving facility was notified of a STEMI within 10 minutes of EMS’ contact with the patient
-The percentage of these patients taken directly to an appropriate cardiac hospital who received intervention within 90 minutes of initial contact with EMS.
-The percentage of patients taken directly to an appropriate cardiac hospital who received intervention in the cath lab within 30 minutes of the patient’s arrival to the emergency room.

The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart- attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. This program recognizes Fire/EMS departments for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify a medical center of the condition, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

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“The Erlanger Fire/EMS Department is committed to swift identification of heart attacks; rapid hospital notifications; quick emergency transport; and early team mobilization at a medical facility in an effort to provide the best possible outcome for those we serve,” Whitaker said. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements to this type of emergency medical care by Mission: Lifeline initiative.”

Dr. Tim Henry, chair of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee, said EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have suffered heart attacks.

“Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart-attack patient,” Dr. Henry said. “We applaud the Erlanger Fire/EMS Department for achieving this award by following evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have suffered severe heart attacks.”

From Erlanger Fire/EMS Department

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