Chicago Ambulances Lacking 12-lead EKGs

CHICAGO – None of the Chicago Fire Department’s 75 ambulances are equipped to detect what’s known as “widow-maker” heart attacks. Also known as STEMIs where a major artery supplying blood to the heart is largely or completely blocked.

Early detection in the ambulance allows doctors at the hospital to immediately administer life-saving treatment upon arrival. Medical experts say any delay increases the chances the patient will suffer permanent damage or death. For every 30 minute delay in treatment, the chance of death from this type of heart attack rises substantially.

The new equipment, called 12-lead EKGs, and training paramedics to use it will cost about $4 million. Chicago fire officials say they plan to buy the equipment when it can be incorporated into a larger plan to improve emergency medical care in the city.

Read More Delayed Detection of Heart Attacks

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