Sussex EMS, Nanticoke earn silver wings for cardiac care

GEORGETOWN – There’s no upside to suffering a heart attack.

But if there could be any silver lining, it’s this: Sussex County has some of the best urgent cardiac care in the nation.

Members of Sussex County Emergency Medical Services joined with representatives of Nanticoke Health Services at county council’s Aug. 22 meeting to announce that the organizations have earned the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Sussex County’s Emergency Medical Services program and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at Tuesday’s county council meeting received the American Heart Association’s Mission LifeLine 2017 EMS Silver Plus Performance Achievement Award for cardiac care.

The designation is national recognition of how well a community can deliver its continuum of care, from first responders providing initial treatment to the patient receiving life-saving, timely care at a medical facility. Pre-hospital personnel are the first providers of care to patients suffering from cardiac emergencies, and the role EMS plays from the beginning is critical.

“Sussex County EMS, along with Nanticoke Health Services, is dedicated to making our service among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline award 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 cardiac patients,” said Rob Mauch, manager of quality and standards for Sussex County EMS. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients.”

Mission: Lifeline recognizes the team effort that occurs during any cardiac event, and how working together in the field and at the hospital to gather accurate information and provide critical care can improve a patient’s chances of survival.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said James Jollis, M.D., chair of the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group. “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 Sussex County EMS and Nanticoke Hospital for achieving this award that shows they meet evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”

During a suspected cardiac event, EMS agencies perform 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs), which measure the electrical activity of the heart and can help determine if a heart attack has occurred. They also follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. These correct tools, training, and practices allow EMS providers to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

State Rep. Danny Short, left, extends heartfelt thanks to Sussex County EMS personnel and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and cardiac staff for the paramedic response and care following the heart attack he sustained recently.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for one year. For Sussex County EMS, the compliance rate is 90 percent to 98 percent on the various measures.

“Since EMS is able to do an initial diagnosis for heart attacks in the field, they are able to make the decision to have the hospital team called in and ready upon the arrival of the patient by ambulance verses waiting for the patient to arrive to make that initial diagnoses. This saves valuable time in the treatment process, and every minute matters,” said Nanticoke Health Services Director of Cardiology Peter Rosen. “For example, if you call 911 when you think you are having a heart attack, EMS staff often reach you and begin diagnosis within just a few minutes. However, if it takes you 15 to 20 minutes to drive to the hospital, you have now delayed your treatment by that drive time. If you believe you are having a heart attack, calling 911 is safer and saves time. Saving that 10 to 15 minutes can mean the difference between life and death for a patient.”

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