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Phoebe Foundation Provides Life Saving Equipment to Area EMS

Albany, GA | February 10, 2022 – Quick treatment can be the key to saving a life when someone is having a heart attack. For every minute a person waits between the time they first feel symptoms of a heart attack to the time they are treated, heart cells could be irreversibly dying. With the help of the Phoebe Foundation, area 911 emergency medical services (EMS) are now able to reduce treatment times and provide better outcomes for heart attack patients.

Technology donated to county EMS agencies in the area allows paramedics to transmit EKG results from the ambulance to the emergency center at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital or another appropriate hospital– enabling physicians to determine the appropriate steps of care before the patient arrives. If the EKG reading indicates a STEMI (ST-Elevation myocardial infarction, the most serious form of heart attack) physicians can activate the catheterization lab at the hospital and be ready to treat the patient immediately upon arrival.

A STEMI involves a blockage in one of the heart’s major arteries and can be life threatening. “Being able to activate the cath lab before the patient arrives reduces the door to balloon time, which means the artery that is blocked is opened faster, thereby restoring the blood flow to the heart as quickly as possible, said Dr. Mark Cohen, medical director of Phoebe Cardiology and interventional cardiologist. “Reducing heart muscle damage is critical and getting a patient into the cath lab faster can make the difference between life and death.”

Terrell County EMS is one area county that has seen the benefits of the technology firsthand. EMS responded to a patient with complaints of chest pain radiating across the chest down both arms and into the patient’s back. Because the EMS crew was able transmit EKG information from the field, the patient bypassed the emergency center and went directly to the cath lab. The door to balloon time for the patient was 33 minutes and the first medical contact to balloon was 73 minutes.

“The American Heart Association recommends the door to balloon goal and first medical contact to balloon time of 90 minutes. Because the EMS was equipped with EKG monitors and proper modems for transmission, together we were able to beat that goal time by nearly 20%,” added Dr. Cohen.

“The cardiac monitors and the new modems allow us to get heart patients the care they need quickly. It has really been life changing for the residents of Terrell County,” said Bo Hamby, Terrell County EMA Director. “We are very grateful to the Phoebe Foundation and to the health system for continuing to be a great partner and helping us to better serve our community.”

Terrell County EMS received cardiac monitors in 2015 but were in need of updated modems to be able to transmit 12-lead EKGs to the emergency center . The Phoebe Foundation purchased new modems that can transmit the needed information. Since 2015, the Phoebe Foundation has provided potentially lifesaving equipment to six EMS agencies in southwest Georgia.

PHOTO CAPTION: (Top) Representatives from Phoebe Foundation, Phoebe Physicians and Terrell County EMS share success story of potentially lifesaving equipment. (Bottom) Bessie Shattles, AEMT (left) and Lillie Hughley, EMT-I (right), of Terrell County EMS, are recognized for their lifesaving efforts of a heart attack patient.