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Erlanger Fire/EMS Given "Gold Plus" Award for Work with Heart Attack Patients

The Erlanger Fire/EMS Department 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 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 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.” 

-Staff report