By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
The Harrison County Emergency Squad recently received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award for utilizing quality improvement measures in treating patients who experience severe heart attacks.
The Harrison County EMS Squad is one of only five in the state and one of 447 nationwide to receive this distinction.
“This is only the second year this award has been given out,” said Stephen McIntire, Assistant Chief of Operations for the squad. “We are ecstatic about being honored for this award. We won this through due diligence of trying to save people’s lives.”
McIntire reported they were notified of their award by email April 29 and will receive the actual award certificate in June in Charleston at a special award ceremony honoring them, hosted by the state EMS Advisory Council. McIntire is the current EMSAC chairman.
The award is given to those agencies that have demonstrated a 75-percent compliance in using the 12-lead ECG on people who report chest pain (unrelated to other known causes) and that have treated at least eight STEMI (ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction) patients per year. These patients are those who have experienced a heart attack due to complete blockage of blood flow to the heart.
McIntire reports their squad not only met the 75-percent guideline, but far surpassed it.
“We were well above that — closer to about 96 percent,” he stated.
More than 250,000 people each year in America experience a STEMI.
Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. The award program recognizes emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.
The 12-lead ECG machines allow the EMS to identify STEMI.
“These tools are extremely important to us to be able to notify the hospital before we even get there, and so they can have the cath [catherization] team ready to do their job,” McIntire explained. “Time is muscle, and muscle is the difference between life and death.”
McIntire reported their squad has saved countless lives by closing the gap time between when they “touch” a patient and when they get them to the cath lab, which should be less than 90 minutes.
American Heart Association representatives commended the Harrison County EMS for their response skill and dedication.
“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” explained Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “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 the Harrison County Emergency Squad for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”
McIntire stated they plan to keep working toward excellence in care for their STEMI patients.
“Harrison County Emergency Squad is dedicated to making our unit one of the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems of care with the goal of improving quality of care for all STEMI patients.”