May 25—In the spirit of National EMS Week, the Norman Regional Health System's EMSSTAT paramedic department and other local first responders received recognition for the quality of their work serving Norman and its surrounding communities at a reception Thursday afternoon.
Each year, the American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline program honors Emergency Medical Service agencies around the country for providing quick and effective care to patients experiencing cardiac emergencies.
"It's something we strive for every year," EMSSTAT Chief Eddie Sims said. "And when we receive it, it's a fulfillment of our goal to demonstrate excellence."
EMSSTAT paramedics serve as Norman, Moore and Goldsby's first medical responders and have earned the American Heart Association's highest level of recognition every year since 2015.
"We've worked hard to get where we are," EMSSTAT paramedic Jeff Burtcher said. "it's great to see the end result of our hard work and get commended for it."
The American Heart Association's guidelines for the honor require EMS agencies to send data proving how quickly their patients' heart activity is recorded and sent to a heart attack receiving center, and then how quickly the patients themselves are transported and begin receiving treatment.
"It's nice to get recognized, because it seems like first responders are kind of the least thought about part of healthcare," Burtcher said. "A lot of people don't even think we're healthcare professionals. They just think we're ambulance drivers."
Although the American Heart Association sets a benchmark for patients to reach treatment at the hospital within 90 minutes of their first medical contact with an EMS agency, Cardiovascular Accreditation and Quality Coordinator Sara McMillan said EMSSTAT has exceeded expectations with times as low as 51 minutes.
"We do a lot of hard training, especially here at EMSSTAT," Burtcher said. "I've worked at seven different EMS places, and this place makes sure that their employees are trained really hard and that we're really up to snuff on our medical profession."
Before the plaques were handed out, Sims spoke about the component of collaboration that makes EMSSTAT so successful.
"We can't do this alone," Sims said. "The dispatchers that take the calls, the firefighters that are the first on scene, our paramedics working together as a team and the people we turn the patients over to at the hospital, it's all one big team."
Fire and police departments from Norman, Moore and Goldsby also received recognition at the reception.
"We are honored to be recognized alongside EMSSTAT for the life-saving work they do in not only Norman, but Cleveland County," the Norman Police Department's Public Information Officer Sarah Jensen said. "We greatly value working together to achieve life-saving outcomes when we arrive on a scene."
EMSSTAT paramedic Meg Jones said EMSSTAT's success comes as a result of great leadership from their medical director and teamwork while on the scene.
"It's an honor to work at EMSSTAT," Jones said. "I enjoy being out in the community and helping the community and being first on scene."