IOWA – Efficiency Saves Lives ($4.6 million grant)

Quick, coordinated responses, bypass criteria, and care guidelines which may allow an ambulance to recognize ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and apply local plans to transport directly to a hospital equipped with a cardiac catheterization lab (also known as a cath lab, and where procedures to open blocked arteries in the heart are carried out), helped save the life of a member of the Alta, IA, fire department. Sixty-year-old Dan complained of sudden onset chest pains that ranked 10 out of 10 in terms of pain. He was also perspiring profusely and could not breathe. As Dan collapsed he instructed his wife, Carmen, to call an ambulance. A first responder who lived just across the street heard the page and arrived within seconds. He performed CPR until an ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later. Dan was still on the floor, gray in color, sweating, and in extreme pain. The response team connected a 12-lead electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG, and a process where electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest to assess the conduction of the heart’s electrical conduction system) and within two minutes of patient contact an Inferior MI (a massive inferolateral STEMI, an infarct of the inferior walls) was identified. The paramedics issued an alert for a STEMI and received guidance to transport Dan directly to St. Luke’s Unity Point Health in Sioux City, which has a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) center where coronary catheterizations are performed, bypassing Buena Vista Regional Medical Center which is not equipped with a cath lab. They linked with Mercy Air Care and coordinated with the Washta Fire Department to set up a landing zone. Sixty-four minutes after the first medical contact, Dan was on the pad at St. Luke’s and went directly to the cath lab. Eighty-six minutes after the first contact, the stent was placed, and blood flow was restored to his heart. 

“Had I tried to take Dan over to the hospital on my own, he would have died on the way there,” said Carmen. “Instead, he has made a full recovery.”

“The equipment provided by the Helmsley Charitable Trust allows providers in rural areas to quickly recognize a true life-threating emergency,” said Matt Imming, Emergency Services Supervisor and Educator for Buena Vista Regional Medical Center, Dan’s local hospital only five miles from his home. “This helps them to get those patients to the definitive care they need and minimize damage to the heart.”

Watch the video of this life-saving story.