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BMH ambulance service wins AHA award

Staff report

The ambulance service at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi recently received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication. In both cases, time is crucial.

EMS services that receive the Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for three required achievement measures for two years and treated at least eight STEMI patients for each year.

“This is a great honor for our EMS team members and our emergency services,” said Bill Henning, CEO and administrator of Baptist North Mississippi. “It’s a testament to the excellent, lifesaving care they provide patients in dire need of medical care.”

Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program celebrates emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

EMS providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide access to 12-lead EKG machines (devices that measure the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help medical personnel determine if a heart attack has occurred), and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the STEMI, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals.  We applaud Baptist North Mississippi for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”