Designation honors agencies who implement quality improvement measures for patients experiencing heart attack, stroke
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (June 27, 2022) — The Somerset-Pulaski County Emergency Medical Service has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Bronze Plus Award for the fourth consecutive year.
The bronze plus designation is given to EMS agencies that implement quality improvement measures in treating patients who experience severe heart attacks. The award also commends the department for its focus on early stroke recognition – identifying a potential stroke patient, sending an alert to the hospital, and getting the patient to the appropriate facility quickly.
“This award validates to our team the extra work they put into what is asked of them in these areas,” Somerset-Pulaski EMS Chief Steven Eubank said. “For the residents we serve, it shows Somerset-Pulaski County EMS is going above the national standard to provide evidence-based treatment for heart attack and stroke care.”
To earn the bronze plus designation, agencies must meet several measurable goals when treating a cardiac patient. EMTs must place a heart monitor on any chest pain patient 35 years old or older within 10 minutes. The signal is then transmitted to the hospital and aspirin is administered to the patient. If the EMTs recognize an ST-elevation myocardial infarction – or STEMI – rhythm indicative of a heart attack, they alert Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and immediately transport the patient here.
Once at the hospital, medical professionals must perform a heart catheterization and put in stints in less than 90 minutes. If the patient is in cardiac arrest, not breathing or doesn’t have a pulse, EMTs resuscitate that patient and then perform a rhythm check to send to the hospital.
Every year, around 280,000 people experience STEMI, the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s crucial to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.
The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
Eubank noted both he and Major Nancy Whitis serve on committees at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital that address these standards. The teamwork between the two organizations is evident through the bronze plus recognition, he said.
“Working in collaboration with Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital many of the requirements for this award go along with their chest pain and stroke certification,” Eubank said. “The work of our team with the hospital’s committees help to identify areas of improvement. Overall, the standard of care is improved, leading to better patient outcomes.”
This is also the fourth year that Somerset-Pulaski County EMS has received the Kentucky Emergency Medical Services for Children Program’s Pediatric Emergency Care Award, an honor given to agencies that exceed the minimum state standards for pediatric care. The Kentucky EMS for Children program raises the bar for education, skills competency testing and community outreach requirements, setting guidelines for agencies to ensure the highest level of care for pediatric patients.
Somerset-Pulaski County EMS was one of only 31 agencies in Kentucky to receive the pediatric emergency care award this year.