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Ambulance and Chair EMS Improves Emergency Cardiac Care in Washington County

By Drew Wilson

Response time is critical during a cardiac event when life or death may hinge on how quickly treatment is received.  Ambulance and Chair EMS has improved emergency cardiac care in Washington County, an effort that has been recognized by the American Heart Association (AHA).

Ambulance and Chair EMS, the largest Emergency Medical Service in Washington County, covering about half of the county with 33 municipalities, has received the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS SILVER PLUS Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks.  

“Ambulance and Chair EMS is honored to be recognized by the American Heart Association for our dedication to providing optimal care for heart attack patients,” said Larry Pollock, Executive Director of Ambulance and Chair EMS. “The Mission: Lifeline program puts proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis so patients have the best possible chance of survival.”

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps reduce barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks – starting from when 9-1-1 is called, to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge. Optimal care for heart attack patients takes coordination between the individual hospital, EMS and healthcare system.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Tim Henry, M.D., Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart attack patient.”

According to Pollock, Ambulance and Chair EMS has taken a three-step approach to improving emergency cardiac care in the county.  First, they have completed a total replacement of the cardiac monitors on each of its 12 ambulances.

“These new monitors have enhanced 12-lead recognition which can provide real-time feedback on the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) being given by our paramedics,” he said.  “It can tell us if we need to push harder with the chest compressions or provide more air.”

Second, Ambulance and Chair EMS has equipped each of the 26 local fire departments with automated external defibrillators (AED), which can analyze the heart rhythm in a patient and deliver an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm. 

“The AEDs integrate with our monitors to provide an extra layer of cardiac care protection for our residents,” he said.  “We’ll all be working with the same equipment.”

Pollock said this is critical because in rural areas of Washington County, the local fire department is often able to arrive at the scene before the paramedics can.

“We have three stations but there are 26 local fire departments and they often can get to the scene of the call before we can,” he said.  “We could not do this without our partnerships with the fire departments.  If treatment can begin sooner, that can make the difference between a patient surviving and having a good quality of life.”

The third step in the program to improve cardiac care in Washington County is teaching more of the public how to do CPR properly and effectively.

“We started a community CPR program prior to the pandemic, but that had to be put on hold for a bit for safety reasons,” Pollock said.  “But our goal is to teach as many people CPR as we can.  If someone can begin CPR before the paramedics or fire department arrives, that also improves the chances of survival.”

Pollock believes the investment in the new monitors and AEDs will make a positive impact on patient outcomes for years to come in Washington County.  He already knows Ambulance and Chair EMS’ 100 employees share the same philosophy when a call comes in.

“We care for every patient like he or she was our own family member,” he said.

For more information or to register for a CPR class with Ambulance and Chair EMS, please call the Business Office at (724) 225-8050, and choose option 3.



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