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BMH recognized for ambulance heart attack care

You’re having a heart attack and every second matters. The ambulance arrives and whatever next few steps are taken by the paramedics can determine whether you survive.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi’s ambulance service was recently recognized by the American Heart Association for implementing quality improvement measures in the treatment of patients who are suffering from a heart attack and making the right life-saving decisions.

Last week, Baptist announced it received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award that requires an ambulance service to provide exceptional care prior to hospital arrival for people with complaints of chest pain.

Last year, Baptist received the Gold Award.

According to Todd Applewhite, EMS manager at Baptist, when an ambulance arrives with a patient complaining of a possible heart attack, paramedics first start a four-lead electrocardiogram, or EKG, to look for abnormalities.

“If they find something, they do a 12-lead EKG, which will look at the heart from 12 angles,” he said. “If that shows the patient is having a STEMI (full-blown heart attack), they contact the ER, start medications and an IV during transport,” he explained. “It’s up to the paramedic to recognize the signs during the initial EKG to get everything going.”

When the patient arrives at the ER, they are met by the cardiology team and immediately taken to the Cath Lab.

“The patient is never taken off the stretcher,” Applewhite said. “They go straight from the ambulance to the Cath Lab and if a blockage is confirmed, they start a (heart) cath.”

To receive a Gold Award, the hospital must meet three criteria — the EKG being performed in the field; the transmission of the EKG back to the hospital; and the transport of the patient back to the hospital so their trip to the Cath Lab to open an artery is 90 minutes from arrival on the scene.

All three criteria must be met at the 75 percent level to reach gold. For the Gold Plus award, that EKG done in the field must be done within 10 minutes of arrival to the patient. The ambulance service team must have received award recognition of Gold for the prior year to receive Gold in 2017.

“It’s very exciting to get the Gold Plus level,” Applewhite said. “But the No. 1 benefit is to our patients, showing them we’re following all recommended guidelines; preparing them for what’s going to happen at the hospital and prolonging their life.”

Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes ambulance service teams for their efforts in improving systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

“Baptist North Mississippi is dedicated to making our service among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all acute coronary syndrome patients,” said Bill Henning, CEO and Administrator at Baptist North Mississippi.. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients.”