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Newtown EMS Among WCHN American Heart Association Award Recipients

DANBURY — Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) Affiliate Emergency Medical Services including Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps recently received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award, currently the highest level recognition offered by the American Hospital Association.

The honor recognizes WCHN’s commitment and success in implementing specific quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer a severe heart attack known as a STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction).

Every year, almost 300,000 people experience a STEMI, a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent significant heart damage and possible death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by performing a cardiac catheterization to place a stent to open the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

Unfortunately, a significant number of patients do not receive prompt reperfusion therapy, which is critical in restoring blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments.

Mission: Lifeline’s new EMS recognition program recognizes those emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

Emergency medical service (EMS) providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide education in STEMI identification and access to 12-lead electrocardiogram machines and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines.

The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the patient with STEMI, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an earlier response from the appropriate hospital personnel.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for the entire year, and treat at least eight STEMI patients for the year.

In 2013, more than 60 patients with STEMI were transported to Danbury Hospital by the regional EMS providers, including at least one patient from Newtown.

“We commend Western Connecticut Health Network Affiliates Emergency Medical Services for this achievement award, which reflects a significant commitment to improve the quality of care for heart attack patients,” said A. Gray Ellrodt, MD, chair of the Mission: Lifeline committee and chief of medicine at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Mass.

“All too many heart attack patients in the United States still fail to receive appropriate treatment for their life-threatening condition within the recommended timeframes,” Dr Gray continued. “We must all continue this important work to streamline and coordinate regional systems of care to save lives and prevent complications.”

“Western Connecticut Health Network Affiliates Emergency Medical Services is dedicated to making our unit among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all STEMI patients,” said John M. Murphy, MD, president and CEO of Western Connecticut Health Network, and a Newtown resident. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for STEMI patients.”

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