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Sullivan County Emergency Medical Services receives American Heart Association’s Lifeline EMS Recognition Award, Gold Plus

Community Contributor • Jun 11, 2017 at 8:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Emergency Medical Services 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.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest 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.

Unfortunately, a significant number of STEMI patients don't receive this prompt reperfusion therapy, which is critical in restoring blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate these patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. 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.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for two years. These measures include:

• Percentage of patients with non-traumatic chest pain greater than 35 years, treated and transported by EMS who received a pre-hospital 12-lead electrocardiogram.

• Percentage of STEMI patients treated and transported directly to an STEMI receiving center, with prehospital first medical contact to device time less than 90 minutes.

• Percentage of 12-lead ECGs performed on patients in the field with an initial complaint of non-traumatic chest pain greater than 35 years, within 10 minutes of EMS arrival to the patient.

"EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks," said James Jollies, M.D., and chair of the Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group. "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 Sullivan County Emergency Medical Service for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks."

"Sullivan County EMS is dedicated to making our service among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all acute coronary syndrome patients," Sullivan County EMS Chief Jim Perry said. "“We are proud of our EMTs’ and paramedics’ achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients in Sullivan County. This is a reflection of the entire pre-hospital system in Sullivan County that includes our dispatch centers and first responder agencies."

Sullivan County EMS is a Class "A" advanced life support service that responds to more than 24,000 medical calls each year. Its staff of 106 includes skilled EMTs and paramedics functioning under the protocol of the agency's medical director. EMTs and paramedics work closely with ER physicians, trauma units and cardiologist to provide the best out-of-hospital care while enroute to the facilities.

Diseases of the heart are among the leading causes of death in Sullivan County, according to 2014 figures from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for acute coronary syndrome patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines. For more information, visit heart.org.

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