ENCINITAS — North County first responders were honored by the American Heart Association on Sept. 1 for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.
American Medical Response, a medical transportation service in North County since 2014, and San Dieguito EMS District (CSA-17) received the AMA’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Plus Award, according to a news release.
“It’s a lot of work by our first responders working as a team on cardiac arrests,” said Dave Austin, program manager at AMR. “(This award) is another measurement of the success of patient care that is being delivered by our first responder partners, agencies and ourselves.”
The award is determined by a number of factors, including speed, quality of care and patient survival rate. Specifically, the AHA’s program recognizes emergency medical providers for their efforts to improve systems of care that rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
Austin told The Coast News that CSA-17’s patient survival rate for cardiac arrest is better than both the state and national averages.
Every year, more than 250,000 people across the U.S. experience an ST-elevation myocardial infarction — the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart. To prevent death, first responders must restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.
“We know without a doubt that early recognition and early intervention saves lives during a heart attack event,” said Encinitas Fire Chief Michael Stein. “Our goal has been to decrease the intervention time primarily through our public education campaigns and we appreciate acknowledgement of those efforts.”
Rancho Santa Fe Fire Chief Fred Cox said these types of fact-based actions save lives.
“For heart attack victims, (treatment) involves bystander CPR, rapid defibrillation, ALS intervention and rapid transport to the hospital,” Cox said. “CSA-17 agencies are constantly looking at ways to improve cardiac survival and being recognized by the AHA for our efforts is really a great honor.”
“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Tim Henry, 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. We applaud AMR and the CSA-17 Fire Agencies for achieving this award in following evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who suffer severe heart attacks.”
CSA-17 encompasses the cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Del Mar Heights area (San Diego), Rancho Santa Fe, Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove.