By Gloria Montgomery, CRDAMC Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, TX –Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and Fort Hood’s Emergency Medical System (EMS) providers were recently recognized by the American Heart Association for their pursuit of excellence and commitment to improving the cardiovascular care of patients suffering from severe heart attacks or STEMI.
“The EMS team here is really building a system of care in this community,” said AHA’s director of quality, education and analytics, Larissa DeLuna, who presented the EMS team with the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Silver Plus Award July 2 at the Fort Hood hospital. “No matter where you are in this community, if you have a STEMI heart attack, this EMS knows how to perform tests and diagnostics to treat you at this facility or to transfer you to another hospital.”
Every year, according to the American Heart Association, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the most deadly type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication. EMS agencies perform 12-lead ECGs, which measure the electrical activity of the heart and can help determine if a heart attack has occurred. They also follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. These correct tools, training, and practices allow EMS providers to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
“CRDAMC/Fort Hood EMS is dedicated to providing optimal care for heart-attack patients,” said Frederick Reed, CRDAMC’s EMS chief. ““We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients.”
CRDAMC earned the award by meeting protocols and performance standards in the treatment of patients.
“Part of that process was to educate our EMS personnel on the data points and the need for documentation in the patient care report,” he said. “By understanding this we are able to provide better patient care in a timely manner.”
According to Christopher Kolb, CRDAMC’s Mission Lifeline coordinator, accurate patient tracking is key to receiving the award.
“Mission Lifeline sets the age of the patients that we must track for the information that goes into getting the award,” said Kolb. “We also must meet time on Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) within 10 minutes of patient contact, as well as track if the patient received Aspirin and Nitroglycerin (Nitro). We must also get the patient to the right hospital in a certain amount of time.”
Reed said there is no standard time element in meeting response call times, but he said fire departments use the Advance Life Support response standard, which is 12-minutes from the time the department received the 911 call.
“We have been meeting the 12 minute or less response time at around 95 percent,” he said.
“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Tim Henry, M.D., Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud CRDAMC/Fort hood EMS for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”
The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks, beginning with the 9-1-1 call, to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge. The initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.