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Sussex EMS and Nanticoke Health receive Mission: Lifeline Award

Shown are in back (l-r) Lisa Wile, Emergency Department nursing director, Nanticoke Health Services; Vicki Strohmaier, ED liaison; Brandon Rogers, SCEMS paramedic; Robert Stuart, SCEMS director; Lars Granholm, SCEMS paramedic; and Ed Engdahl, SCEMS education coordinator. In front are Karen Gritton, American Heart Association director of development; Penny Short, Nanticoke Health Services COO; Peter Rosen, Nanticoke Health Services director of cardiology; Jeff Cox, SCEMS deputy director of administration; and Robert Mauch, SCEMS manager of quality and standards. SUBMITTED PHOTO
September 2, 2017

There's no upside to suffering a heart attack, but if there could be any silver lining, it's this: Sussex County has some of the best urgent cardiac care in the nation. Members of Sussex County Emergency Medical Services joined representatives of Nanticoke Health Services Aug. 22 to announce that the organizations have earned the American Heart Association's Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

The designation is national recognition of how well a community can deliver its continuum of care, from first responders providing initial treatment to the patient receiving lifesaving, timely care at a medical facility. Prehospital personnel are the first providers of care to patients suffering from cardiac emergencies, and the role EMS plays from the beginning is critical.

"Sussex County EMS, along with Nanticoke Health Services, is dedicated to making our service among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association's Mission: Lifeline award program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all cardiac patients," said Rob Mauch, manager of quality and standards for Sussex County EMS. "We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for all cardiac patients."

Mission: Lifeline recognizes the team effort that occurs during any cardiac event, and how working together in the field and at the hospital to gather accurate information and provide critical care can improve a patient's chances of survival.

"EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks," said James Jollis, MD, chair of the AHA's Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group. "Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of lifesaving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud Sussex County EMS and Nanticoke Hospital for achieving this award that shows they meet evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks."

During a suspected cardiac event, EMS agencies perform 12-lead electrocardiograms, which measure the electrical activity of the heart and can help determine if a heart attack has occurred. They also follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. These correct tools, training and practices allow EMS providers to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel. Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver Award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for one year. For Sussex County EMS, the compliance rate is 90 percent to 98 percent on the various measures.

"Since EMS is able to do an initial diagnosis for heart attacks in the field, they are able to make the decision to have the hospital team called in and ready upon the arrival of the patient by ambulance versus waiting for the patient to arrive to make that initial diagnosis. This saves valuable time in the treatment process, and every minute matters," said Nanticoke Health Services Director of Cardiology Peter Rosen. "For example, if you call 911 when you think you are having a heart attack, EMS staff often reach you and begin diagnosis within just a few minutes. However, if it takes you 15 to 20 minutes to drive to the hospital, you have now delayed your treatment by that drive time. If you believe you are having a heart attack, calling 911 is safer and saves time. Saving that 10 to 15 minutes can mean the difference between life and death for a patient."

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