Donated EKGs help reduce heart attack treatment times

The Dearborn Heights Fire Department and Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. (OHI) are teaming up to help save lives.

The healthcare system recently donated $20,000 to help fund the purchase of two portable 12-lead LifePak monitors. The portable EKG units are capable of transmitting vital information directly to the smart phones of emergency room physicians, greatly reducing the amount of time it takes to treat heart attack patients.

“It’s a great piece of equipment; it’s very beneficial to our residents,” said Capt. Russell McNamee of the Dearborn Heights Fire Department. “We are grateful to Oakwood Healthcare for their generosity and the long-term relationship we have enjoyed with them.”

The Dearborn Heights Fire Department has two units, one in each station. With them, paramedic crews can transmit data directly to hospital physicians, who can analyze it wherever they are and respond accordingly. Having that knowledge ahead of time allows doctors to prepare the proper treatment virtually as soon as the ambulance arrives at the hospital, said Joseph Murray, manager of critical care transport and trauma services for Oakwood Healthcare. Referred to as door-to-balloon time—the period of time that elapses between a patient’s arrival at an emergency room and when an emergency angioplasty can be performed—those crucial minutes determine how much damage, if any, the heart suffers during a cardiac episode. The national benchmark is 90 minutes, but Oakwood averages about 39 minutes and, by using the new units, has reduced that number even further. Treatment times of less than 30 minutes are becoming common, Murray said.

“It’s had a tremendous impact,” said Murray. “We are setting the standard with cardiac care.” Murray cautioned, however, that no matter how good the equipment and response procedures, individuals must act quickly and call 9-1-1 if they experience any symptoms that suggest an oncoming heart attack. “Rapid diagnosis is the key to achieving the best possible outcome when it comes to a heart attack,” he said.

Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko said he appreciated the donation, which comes at a time when municipalities throughout the state are experiencing funding difficulties, as well as the service Oakwood provides.

“It’s been a great cooperative effort,” said Paletko.

Oakwood has committed to providing the units and training to paramedics throughout the 35 communities it serves. The units are also in use in the City of Dearborn, Taylor, Wayne, Trenton and several others.

CUTLINE: L to R: Dearborn Heights Fire Capt. Russell McNamee; David Moore, PO, AEMT; Anthony S. Cerroni, firefighter/paramedic; Amy Anderson, STEMI Coordinator for Oakwood Healthcare, Joseph Murray, manager of clinical transport and trauma services for Oakwood Healthcare; Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel S. Paletko; and Michael Beer, firefighter/paramedic.