Pa. EMS agency awarded by AHA for cardiac care
The association honored Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services with its Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award
By Bob Bauder
PITTSBURGH — If you're going to have a serious heart attack, the American Heart Association suggests you do it in Pittsburgh.
The association on Thursday honored Pittsburgh Emergency Medical Services with its Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award, which recognizes paramedic agencies that diagnose patients having a STEMI heart attack—the worst possible kind—alert hospitals to the situation and transport them to a heart catheterization laboratory, all within 90 minutes. To receive a Gold Plus award, agencies must do that in 75 percent of their annual STEMI cases.
"It means they save a lot of lives," said Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.
An ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a serious form of heart attack in which a coronary artery is completely blocked and a large part of the heart muscle is unable to receive blood. "ST segment elevation" refers to a pattern that shows up on an electrocardiogram (EKG).
Pittsburgh EMS treats about 60 patients per year for STEMI heart attacks, according to Mark Pinchalk, an EMS division chief. In 2017, paramedics met the American Heart Association Gold Plus criteria in 76 percent of its STEMI cases. So far this year, they're meeting it at a rate of 92 percent, he said.
"From the time our crew gets there they (also) have to acquire an (electrocardiogram), read the EKG, transmit it and activate the catheterization lab within 10 minutes," Pinchalk said.
Kelly Macheska, vice president of quality systems improvement for the American Heart Association's Pittsburgh Metro Service Area, said Gold Plus is the highest award that an EMS agency can achieve.
"The City of Pittsburgh EMS is part of an elite group of prehospital agencies in the United States focusing not only on high functioning, but also high quality, heart attack care," she said.
Pittsburgh is one of only 57 agencies in Pennsylvania and 497 in the United States receiving the Gold Plus Award, she said, estimating there are more than 1,500 EMS agencies in the state alone.
Mayor Bill Peduto congratulated the EMS crews.
"What does it mean for the city of Pittsburgh? It means that, if you're in need of cardiac care, you will get the best-trained professional service in the world," he said. "It's a partnership that we work proudly with our local hospitals in order to assure that, from the moment that call is made to the moment that you're able to survive and be back with your loved ones, Pittsburgh can provide you with care that no one else can top."
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