The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 2, 2013

Doctor: EFD medical advance could save lives

EDMOND — A technological advance initiated this week by the Edmond Fire Department will save the lives of local heart patients, a local cardiologist said.

In the body, arteries can become narrowed or blocked by deposits called plaque, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Plaque is made up of fat and cholesterol that build up on the inside of artery walls, a condition called atherosclerosis.

Each year about 250,000 Americans suffer a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest form of heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

Symptoms of a STEMI include: Chest discomfort with or without radiation to the arms, back, neck, jaw or epigastrium (abdomen); shortness of breath; weakness; diaphoresis (excessive medically-related sweating); nausea; and lightheadedness.

Of those who receive percutaneous coronary intervention only 40 percent are treated within the door-to-balloon (angioplasty) timeframe of 90 minutes recommended by the American Heart Association.

For STEMI patients, each passing minute equals more heart muscle damage, said Maj. Brian Davis, the Edmond Fire Department’s EMS director. Delays in treating this most lethal type of heart attack can result in catastrophic heart damage or death, Davis said. Rapid diagnosis and treatment dramatically increases a patient’s chance for survival, he said.

Until recently, emergency medical services providers lacked a fast, consistent method for transmitting high-quality 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECG), a recording of heartbeats, to receiving hospitals, Davis said.

On Thursday, the Edmond Fire Department began transmitting ECGs instantly from the field to nine metro hospitals including INTEGRIS Health Edmond, which has a new state-of-the-art heart lab.

Davis said the portable ECG machines mean more properly trained personnel are able to use them. The EFD has 11 ECG machines, which run about $50,000 each, with 30 trained paramedics and 110 emergency medical technicians to meet the growing demand for medical care, Davis said. Everybody on a rig has some medical training, he said.

Since EMTs are associated with paramedics, they are doing advanced practices, Davis said. For example, Edmond’s EMTs know how to put electrodes on a patient, Davis said.

“I’m real excited about it,” he said regarding the EFD’s technological advances. “It’s about what’s best for the citizens of Edmond.”

Davis said Fire Chief Jake Rhoades is engaged in the agency’s paramedic program and is up to date on the newest technology. If a citizen is having chest pains, they should call 911 and personnel will respond, Davis said.

Santosh Prabhu, lead cardiologist at INTEGRIS Health Edmond, said he believes the EFD’s advance will save lives. Information from the field will be received by the hospital, giving staff a head start on preparing for the incoming patient, Prabhu said. An ECG indicating a STEMI dictates certain protocols, he said.

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