After six straight years of earning one of the American Heart Association’s highest honors for Delaware County’s Emergency Medical Services Department has gone one better and earned its Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus award for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Each year, more than 250,000 people in the U.S. experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes EMS agencies for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

“The Gold measure that we have achieved for years was excellent,” said Delaware County EMS Director Jeff Fishel. “It outlined our commitment and level of service to pre-hospital cardiac care. Gaining the Plus recognition speaks to our ability to perform field EKGs and recognize heart attacks quickly and efficiently on a consistent basis.”

Fishel added: “Speed of detection affects outcomes. The community can rest assured that, while the measures we report look to meet the Gold level of at least 75%+ compliance, we are actually exceeding those measures with a rate above 95% most months and that’s what puts us at the Gold Plus level.”

Delaware County EMS is the only agency in central Ohio to have received an AHA Mission: Lifeline award at any level. There are nearly 1,500 emergency medical service providers in Ohio. Of these, 69 received either Gold or Gold Plus awards. Another 24 received awards from the Bronze to the Silver Plus levels.

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