BMH recognized for ambulance heart attack care

You’re having a heart attack and every second matters. The ambulance arrives and whatever next few steps are taken by the paramedics can determine whether you survive.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi’s ambulance service was recently recognized by the American Heart Association for implementing quality improvement measures in the treatment of patients who are suffering from a heart attack and making the right life-saving decisions.

Last week, Baptist announced it received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award that requires an ambulance service to provide exceptional care prior to hospital arrival for people with complaints of chest pain.

Last year, Baptist received the Gold Award.

According to Todd Applewhite, EMS manager at Baptist, when an ambulance arrives with a patient complaining of a possible heart attack, paramedics first start a four-lead electrocardiogram, or EKG, to look for abnormalities.

“If they find something, they do a 12-lead EKG, which will look at the heart from 12 angles,” he said. “If that shows the patient is having a STEMI (full-blown heart attack), they contact the ER, start medications and an IV during transport,” he explained. “It’s up to the paramedic to recognize the signs during the initial EKG to get everything going.”

When the patient arrives at the ER, they are met by the cardiology team and immediately taken to the Cath Lab.

“The patient is never taken off the stretcher,” Applewhite said. “They go straight from the ambulance to the Cath Lab and if a blockage is confirmed, they start a (heart) cath.”

To receive a Gold Award, the hospital must meet three criteria — the EKG being performed in the field; the transmission of the EKG back to the hospital; and the transport of the patient back to the hospital so their trip to the Cath Lab to open an artery is 90 minutes from arrival on the scene.

All three criteria must be met at the 75 percent level to…

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