Mayor Chris Beutler today praised Lincoln Fire & Rescue (LF&R), Bryan Health and St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center for their efforts to increase survivability for those experiencing heart attacks. Their use of state-of-the-art technology is helping the system deliver care in less than half the time of the national average.
Fire Chief John Huff said the response time is extremely important because "time is muscle" - the faster the response, the less heart damage the patient will experience. He said first responders use an EKG with 12 leads (connections to the patient) to determine if the patient is experiencing a blocked artery in the heart (called a STEMI - ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). That information is then sent by cellular modem to the emergency room, where doctors can review the results and share them with a cardiologist by cell phone. When the patient arrives at the hospital, he or she often does not need to stop in the emergency room, but can go directly to the catheterization lab for a balloon angioplasty to open the blocked artery.
The national average is about 90 minutes from the time a patient enters the hospital until the catheter is inserted in the heart. Lincoln's average is 43.9 minutes. Lincoln's average is about 68 minutes from the time the first responders reach the patient until the catheter is inserted. Lincoln's averages are based on incidents from April 2010 to the present.
"The bottom line is that if you have a heart attack in Lincoln, the likelihood of your surviving it greatly exceeds the national norm," said Mayor Beutler. "This is due to the outstanding teamwork and professionalism of Lincoln Fire & Rescue and the cardiac care units at Bryan Health and St. Elizabeth. They are taking technology that used to be reserved for hospital use right to the patient's doorstep."
LF&R has been obtaining 12-lead EKGs for use in the field since 2005. Since 2010, the front line medic units have had the capability to transmit the 12-lead EKGs from the patient's side to the emergency room using the Physio LifePak 15, which includes a monitor and defibrillator. The cellular modems transmit the EKGs through the LifeNet system directly to the hospital. In 2012, LF&R transmitted 1,002 12-lead EKGS. So far this year, about 567 have been transmitted.
LF&R responds to life threatening incidents in less than eight minutes more than 90 percent of the time. More information on LF&R is available at fire.lincoln.ne.gov.