Houston, November 19, 2014 – On July 7, 2014, the crew on ambulance M94 for Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) arrived on a scene at 9:37 a.m. and treated the patient like they would any other call on any other day. This call, however, was different because the patient received life-saving treatment in record time.
When a patient is having a heart attack, it is vital to re-establish flow to the blocked artery in the heart, and that is accomplished by an angioplasty performed in a hospital’s cardiac catheterization (cath) lab. The national standard from the American Heart Association is for patients to receive this type of procedure is 90 minutes or less.
Despite a necessary diversion due to a train, the team at HCEC delivered the patient to Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital where interventional cardiologists opened the affected artery in just 14 minutes. The overall time from initial contact by paramedics until the artery was opened in the hospital was only 35 minutes—a record for the hospital system and EMS agencies in Houston.
Monty Northern, Nichole Fallacara-Pailes and Cassandra Buergel were on the ambulance that day and responded to the patient at work. The crew quickly performed and interpreted a diagnostic EKG to confirm that the patient was having a heart attack. Upon confirmation, the crew immediately radioed to dispatch and transmitted the EKG to the hospital.
The ambulance crew was received by a team of specialists on arrival at Memorial Hermann Northeast and was immediately escorted to the cardiac cath lab. Because of advanced technology available on the ambulance, the cardiologist was able to view the diagnostic EKG prior to the arrival of the ambulance and was able to quickly prepare for the patient.
"We are proud of the teamwork between Harris County Emergency Corps and Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. With our systems able to transmit to the hospital, we can help facilitate quicker times for patients in the cath lab,” said Jeremy Hyde, CEO of HCEC. “I am very proud of our medics for making a difference in people's lives every single day."
According to the American Heart Association, almost 250,000 Americans experience STEMI, the deadliest form of heart attack each year. A STEMI is caused by a prolonged decrease in blood supply due to a blocked artery, and unless the blockage is quickly removed, part of the heart muscle dies.
It’s important for patients to call 9-1-1 if they are showing signs of a heart attack, which include:
Chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes and feels like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
Shortness of breath
Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
About Harris County Emergency Corps
Harris County Emergency Corps (HCEC) is a nonprofit EMS provider responding to 9-1-1 emergency medical calls to approximately 400,000 citizens of Northern Harris County. HCEC is a premier emergency medical services organization committed to preserving lives through clinical excellence, progressive medicine, and professional service. For more information, visit www.hcec.com.