A Heartfelt Thanks to Paramedics, Doctors for Coordinated Cardiac Care


 
 

Ann Wlazelek | | Wednesday, November 21, 2007


ALLENTOWN, Pa.-- Richard Silverman shouldn t be alive after the kind of massive heart attack he had at work last month.

But the 62-year-old South Whitehall Township man stood at a news conference at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest last week in testament to efforts that brought him life-saving, artery-opening treatment in a record 24 minutes.

I m grateful to a lot of people in the room today, said Silverman, standing beside his wife, Jan, in an LVH procedure room filled with doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Dr. Richard MacKenzie, LVH s chairman of emergency medicine, said the 24 minutes it took staffers to open Silverman s blocked artery with a balloon-tipped catheter after he arrived at the emergency room door is almost unheard of in the country. It s about half the door-to-balloon time LVH averaged the past few months.

Almost all the Lehigh Valley s hospitals are equipped to perform the life-saving balloon angioplasty procedure. But only one-third of the U.S. hospitals specializing in heart care have met the national goal of 90 minutes or less set last year by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology.

Two steps made the difference in Silverman s case, doctors said: His wife, who works with her husband at an Allentown dental lab, called 911 in spite of his protests; and paramedics performed an electrocardiogram, or EKG, on Silverman s heart before taking him to the hospital.

Because the patient did not drive himself to the hospital and doctors at the hospital did not have to repeat the EKG, vital time and heart muscle were saved.

Time is muscle, said Dr. Andrew Miller, an LVH emergency physician. The faster you can get a patient in to relieve a heart attack, the better the patient will do.

Training paramedics to interpret the EKG and share test results with doctors receiving their calls began at LVH this summer but is a new protocol in development regionally as well as nationally.

There is not just one hospital doing this, said Everitt Binns, executive director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services Council, which oversees advanced and basic ambulance service in Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe and Schuylkill counties. Contacted after the news conference, Binns said the council is taking a regional approach to standardize the added training for paramedics and the added equipment purchases for all 37 advanced ambulance services in the region.

That puts the Valley well ahead of other regions in the state and nation, Binns said.

It was fitting that Silverman was one of the first to benefit from the training. His father, Dr. Morton Silverman, helped launch LVH s heart program in the mid-1960s. He is now 95 and lives in Bethlehem.

When paramedic Steph Burke of Cetronia Ambulance Corps took the extra step to save Silverman s life on Oct. 18, however, it was her first day on the job.

Burke didn t trust Silverman s claims that the burning in his chest was just acid reflux that would soon go away. His gray color and profuse sweating told her otherwise.

She attached 12 EKG leads to his chest instead of the usual four for a more definitive diagnosis. While en route, she described what she saw to emergency physicians answering the call.

Awaiting Silverman s arrival, the emergency room and cath lab staffers then moved the patient as quickly as possible from the emergency room to the cath lab, where heart specialist Dr. Nainesh Patel found a life-threatening blockage in a major blood-supplying artery, sometimes called the widow-maker. Patel used a balloon-tipped catheter to open the blockage and placed a brace-like metal stent inside to keep it open, restoring blood flow and oxygen to Silverman s heart.

Leaving the news conference, Silverman thanked Burke with a warm embrace.

She hugged back and, with the nicest intent, said, I don t ever want to meet you again.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Industry News, Cardiac and Circulation, Provider Wellness and Safety

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >