Going for the Gold: SCCAD Recognized by Heart Assn. for STEMI Care

Next summer, residents throughout the metro area will undoubtedly be tuned in to see if American athletes bring home the gold at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.  This week, one group in our region already garnered gold status, albeit in a different form!  St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] paramedics earned the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus distinction for their continued implementation of quality measures for the treatment of patients who experience ST elevation myocardial infarction [STEMI] – a severe type of heart attack.

Each year, more than 250,000 individuals experience a STEMI, which is caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart and requires timely treatment.  To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, a significant number of these patients don’t receive this prompt attention.

The correct tools, training and practices allow SCCAD paramedics to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.  Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Gold award demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for two years.  The ‘Plus’ distinction reflects that paramedics are consistently performing a 12-lead ECG on patients within 10 minutes on chest pain calls.

“Paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said James Jollis, M.D., Chair of the Mission: Lifeline Advisory Working Group.  “Since they are often the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time off by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals.  We applaud SCCAD for meeting evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of STEMI patients.”

SCCAD paramedics and leadership staff are elated to be recognized at this high level, but are quick to highlight that it is their collaborative relationships with area hospitals that make it possible.

“We’re working diligently with our partners at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters, Progress West, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital St. Charles and SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Lake St. Louis to develop processes and protocols with the goal of improving the quality of care for STEMI patients,” said John Romeo, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for SCCAD.

Cardiac care has been an area of focus for SCCAD in recent years; in 2015, the District was the first in the region to debut cardio-cerebral resuscitation [CCR] – an innovative approach to cardiac arrest management that saw a significant increase in survival to hospital discharge rates.