SALT LAKE CITY - Over the past two weeks, the Salt Lake City Fire Department has been using a new technology that will allow them to more quickly evaluate patients with heart problems and treat them more effectively.
To implement the "12-lead" system, which allows paramedics to see the heart from various angles, fire officials had to upgrade their equipment and undergo additional training, Salt Lake City Fire Capt. Tom Burckhard said. He said the program also allows paramedics to send details and a report of the patient's heart condition to hospitals before the person is even transported.
"It allows us to decrease the amount of time it takes for a person to go and get more extensive treatment in the hospital," he said. "Time is money when it comes to the damage to the heart so if we can decrease it by 15 minutes even, it's that much less damage that has occurred." Burckhard said the program has already saved two lives. He said one patient was undergoing symptoms that didn't even resemble a potential heart attack but the electrocardiogram (EKG) monitoring devices picked up on what turned out to be a heart attack.
He said the fire department responded to more than 700 patients complaining of heart problems last year, but they couldn't have funded this new technology on their own. The Utah Hospital Association donated more than $90,000 to help the department acquire a new system. Salt Lake City Fire and Gold Cross Ambulance are working together in a partnership to use the new product, helping to save lives.