In the time it takes to write this short piece, more than 90 people across the United States will have suffered a heart attack â€“ and almost 40 of them will have died. In the same time frame, a call to 911 could have a patient in an ambulance and on the way to a nearby hospital where lifesaving treatment is ready on a momentâ€™s notice. More often that not, the difference between surviving a heart attack and becoming another statistic is a matter of a few minutes. Precious time.
The very best way someone suffering a heart attack can save time and have a fighting chance for survival is to call 911 instead of driving to the hospital. Here in the Atlanta area, a one-of-a-kind initiative, appropriately named TIME, makes it possible for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to quickly respond to a patient and transmit life-saving data to local Atlanta hospitals in order to shorten the time to treatment and increase a heart attack victim’s chance of survival. Two Emory hospitals â€“ Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown â€“ are partners with three other local hospitals in this effort to make Atlanta one of the safest cities in America in which to have a heart attack.
Bryan McNally, MD, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital and co-director of the TIME program, says the collaboration is the first cooperative urban program in the United States. It was developed to provide the most rapid response to a cardiac emergency by improving every step of care from the onset of symptoms to treatment at the hospital. The time from the onset of the heart attack to the opening of the artery is critical in reducing heart damage and improving survival.
An EMS call results in quick evaluation, treatment and vital information transmitted to the nearest hospital where a team will stand ready to meet the patient at the door and begin opening a blocked artery within minutes. Kate Heilpern, MD, chair of the Emory Department of Emergency, says the chain of survival from pre-hospital 911 to the emergency room to the catheter lab is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at our institutions. In these instances, when EMS suspects a heart attack, getting the patient to the right place at the right time with the right providers to do the right thing definitely optimizes patient care and enhances quality and outcome.
Read more about chest pain center accreditation.