12-Lead EKGs help SOMC beat national benchmark for heart attack care

Carlos Morris fits the profile of someone who is serious about maintaining good health.

He is not overweight. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He exercises almost every day. That’s why he was just as surprised as anyone when, while working out at the Wheelersburg Life Center, Carlos had a heart attack.

“I was just working out on one of the machines,” Carlos said. “Once I finish, I usually take a couple of laps to cool off, but this time I couldn’t. I was sweating unbelievably, then my chest started hurting and I became nauseated.”

An ambulance was called to take Carlos to Southern Ohio Medical Center, but his treatment actually began long before he arrived at the hospital. That’s because the ambulance was equipped with a 12-lead EKG system that helped emergency staff in Portsmouth evaluate Carlos’ condition while he was still in Wheelersburg.

Using the EKGs, Carlos was diagnosed with an acute heart attack and the results were sent to SOMC’s Emergency Room via cell phone technology before he ever arrived at the hospital. Because of this, the cardiologist and cath lab team were able to prepare to treat him as soon as he arrived.  This allowed him to completely bypass the Emergency Department and go straight to the Cath lab.

Within 46 minutes of the squad’s arrival at the Life Center, and within 23 minutes of their arrival at SOMC, Carlos made it to the Cath lab, had a balloon inserted and the affected artery was re-opened.

“The national benchmark for getting heart attack patients to the cath lab is 90 minutes, but we were able to cut that by more than half thanks to the use of the 12-lead EKG system in the field by Porter Township EMS ,” SOMC Director of Critical Care and Heart and Vascular Services Amy Fraulini said.

When a heart attack occurs, the faster a patient can be assessed and treated the better their odds of survival. Carlos’ story demonstrates how 12-lead EKGs used by ambulances can increase those odds, and that is why SOMC has made it a goal to ensure that all local ambulances carry the technology. The process of equipping these squads has already begun, thanks to funds raised through community donations. The proceeds from SOMC’s 2012 Ohio River Cruise also went towards purchasing the equipment.

Thanks to the quick care Carlos received, he has already returned to the Life Center and is looking forward to resuming his normal routines.

“I’m very grateful for everything that was done for me,” Carlos said. “I’d like to personally thank everyone who made it possible.”