Device aids Madison Township cardiac response

 Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
 Madison Township firefighter/paramedic Allen Young programs new information into the fire department’s  LifePak defibrillators following a change in field-to-hospital transmission of cardiac patient data.  

The generosity of an anonymous benefactor, coupled with a state emergency services grant, is helping Madison Township administer care to cardiac patients faster and more efficiently.

The Madison Township Fire Department recently installed a new data transmission system on their Lifepak defibrillators-devices used to monitor heart rhythms-which, Assistant Chief Robert Bates reported, translates into faster evaluation of cardiac cases by hospital personnel. Information is now transmitted via a modem attached to the Lifepak.

"They can see the heart attack on the monitor as it’s happening and implement STEMI (Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) protocols within the hospital even before the medic arrives with the patient at the emergency room," said Bates. "This makes a huge difference and it really changes the survival rate. It gets people into the cath lab a lot quicker. With us being able to do this in the field, instead of waiting until they get to the hospital, it really cuts down on the time and time translates into post-care quality of life issues. The beauty of the system is even without the patient suffering a STEMI, we’re already transmitting info from the field to the hospital and it’s a simple process. Only three buttons have to be pushed and 50 seconds later the hospital is receiving the data."

The American Heart Association reported a STEMI heart attack carries a substantial risk of death and disability and calls for a quick response on behalf of emergency and hospital personnel.

Fire Chief Cliff Mason said the township is one of the first departments in Franklin County to utilize the equipment. In the past 30 months, out of a monthly average of 150 calls, approximately 30 were cardiac in nature. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, shorter door-to-catherization times were more often achieved when trained paramedics independently triaged and transported patients directly to a designated angioplasty (PCI) center than when patients were referred from the emergency department.

"Having an emergency department activate the cath lab while a patient was en route was the second most successful strategy, cutting time by 15.4 minutes," stated the medical publication in a Jan. 17, 2008 article.

The journal reported that delays increased mortality. In patients who were treated with angioplasty, each 30 minutes of delay increased the relative risk of one-year mortality by more than seven percent. An overview of almost two dozen random trials comparing primary PCI with fibrinolysis concluded PCI was superior at reducing death, reinfarction, and stroke. It was also more cost-effective.

"Research suggests that primary PCI, when performed in a timely fashion by health care professionals in experienced medical centers, is superior to clot-busting therapy in reducing the rates of death and complications after a STEMI heart attack," commented Dr. Alice Jacobs, past president of the American Heart Association.

With the state grant covering the cost of the modems, Madison Township officials initially thought their only out-of-pocket expense would be the $1,195 five-year data transmission fee. However, an anonymous individual made a donation to Ohio State University for cardiac care and the money was used to cover the subscription fees for area fire departments using the new data transmission system.

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