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Field EKGs. Saving Time. Saving Lives

"Time is muscle" is a familiar phrase among those who treat heart attack victims. Every minute physicians, nurses and staff can shave off between a heart attack and treatment can dramatically improve the patient's odds of survival. Fortunately, all Elkhart General Hospital-trained Paramedics are qualified and equipped to transmit a patient's EKG to the Hospital before they ambulance even pulls into the Emergency Department (ED).

This ambulance-based transmission of EKG's is a result of the Hospital's Field EKG program that was initiated two years ago. Today, virtually all suspected heart attack calls to 911 are dispatched to a Field EKG team.

Within moments of arriving on the scene, the Paramedic is able to wirelessly transmit the patient's EKG to the ED.  There, the medical staff examines the readings and, once a probable heart attack is confirmed, gives orders to page "Code STEMI," a signal to actiate the Cath Lab staff and alert the Cardiologist on duty that a heart attack victim is just minutes away. In many cases, the readings are so accurate that the patient can be taken directly to the Lab, bypassing the ED and speeding the process along even faster.

In recent years, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology initiated D2B (Door to Balloon), a standard that calls for a heart attack victim to be in the Cath Lab, undergoing angioplasty, within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.  Door to Balloon has become the gold standard of performance for treatment of heart attack victims. Today, thanks in large measure to our Field EKG program, Elkhart General Hospital is meeting that performance goal 100 percent of the time.

For a chest pain patient to make it from their home to the hospital, through diagnosis and to the Cath Lab for a life saving intervention within 90 minutes is testimony to the collaboration of all people involved. It speaks to commitment and everyone knowing their piece of the process.  Congratulations on 100 percent success in 2010 to Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Department staff, Emergency physicians, Laboratory, House Supervisors, Switchboard, Cath Lab staff and Cardiologists.

For More Information

For more information on programs offered by the Elkhart General Hospital Emergency Medical Services, call 574-875-6430.