New equipment bought with a grant will save lives and preserve quality of life for heart attack patients, hospital and emergency medical services officials said.
Half of the ambulance squads in the Midstate Emergency Medical Services Council have modems that allow their EKG machines to transmit results to the emergency room at the touch of a button. The other half will have them within the next few weeks, said Vinny Faraone, EMS clinical coordinator for Midstate.
“This was a godsend to this community. It’s going to make a huge difference,” said Dr. Shravanti Halpern, medical director of the emergency department at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, the area’s designated cardiac center.
The modems and software to equip 37 ambulances in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties were paid for by a $120,000 Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Community and Member Health Improvement grant to the Mohawk Valley Heart Institute.
By receiving clear EKG results directly from ambulances, hospitals can assemble their cardiac staff before the patient arrives at the hospital. That means patients get into the cardiac catheterization lab for clot-busting treatment faster. And the faster the treatment, the less damage to heart muscle, and a better quality of life for survivors.
Many of the squads getting the update are in outlying areas, such as Waterville and Old Forge, where patients face a long ride to the hospital.
Last year, the region’s 38 ambulance services rushed about 2,600 heart patients to emergency rooms, Faraone said. That’s about 6 percent of emergency calls, he said.
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