Currently there are 19 Broward County fire rescue agencies and nine area hospitals utilizing the new technology. "We will have all County hospitals online in the very near future," said Cheryl Rashkin of the Broward County's Office of Emergency Medical Examiner and Trauma Services. "We received the grant earlier this year and knowing the benefits that are derived from this technology we are working very hard to get everyone involved."
According to Joel Gordon, battalion chief with Plantation Fire Rescue, the national average to get a patient to the hospital for appropriate treatment from the time of the 9-1-1 call is 90 minutes. "Our average is about 60 minutes due to the ability of the paramedics to transmit the ECG directly to the emergency department. We want to reduce that down to 30 minutes. Time saves lives," Gordon said.
The transmitted ECG appears on computer screens in the emergency department and the cardiac treatment area, known as the catherization (cath) laboratory. In many cases, an on-call cardiologist will also get paged and receive a copy of the ECG to any preferred hand-held mobile device.
"When treating heart attack patients, time is muscle," said Dr. Jerry Parkolap, director of emergency services at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation. "For every minute that passes, without treatment, the patient's chances for survival drop. Reducing a patient's time with paramedics on scene to 'balloon time' is a team effort," he said. "By having the paramedics transmit the 12-lead ECG from the patient's bedside, the emergency department physician already sees the problem and can send the patient directly for treatment, in many cases, completely bypassing the emergency department," Parkolap explained.