NHRMC EMS Teams Receive American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline Award

June 25, 2015
WILMINGTON, NC - New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services and AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport teams have received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

For the second consecutive year, NHRMC EMS and Airlink VitaLink Critical Care Transport teams received the highest Mission: Lifeline award possible.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a type of heart attack caused by a complete 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 surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

Unfortunately, a significant number don’t receive prompt reperfusion therapy, which is critical in restoring blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes those emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.

The national standard for medical contact to artery open time is a median time of 90 minutes. NHRMC’s 2014 medical contact to artery open time, meaning the time EMS arrives to the time the blocked artery is opened by stent or balloon, was 75 minutes.

The national standard for patients transferred from a referring hospital for medical contact to artery open time is median time of 120 minutes. For a patient arrival at referral hospital, and then transferred to NHRMC, the medical contact to artery open time was 87 minutes.

Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide access to 12-lead ECG machines (devices that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help medical personnel determine if a heart attack has occurred), and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the STEMI, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger and early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Gold award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for two years and treated at least eight STEMI patients for each year.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud NHRMC for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”

“NHRMC is dedicated to making our unit among the best in the country, and the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program is helping us accomplish that by implementing processes for improving STEMI systems of care with the goal of improving the quality of care for all STEMI patients,” said David Parks, vice president of cardiac and clinical support services at NHRMC. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care for STEMI patients.”

About NHRMC Emergency Transport Services

New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Transport Services division, a leader in setting standards for exceptional pre-hospital care, consists of two patient transport departments. NHRMC Emergency Medical Services is New Hanover County's 911 emergency paramedic service and includes a community paramedic program. NHRMC AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport is a comprehensive transport program offering air medical transportation, ground mobile intensive care units, as well as basic and intermediate life support medical transportation. It also includes the Regional Transfer Center, which coordinates patient transfers across the region, and VitaLine, the region's 24-hour, non-emergency nurse help line. NHRMC Emergency Transport Services operates two helicopters and 45 ground emergency vehicles with annual mileage exceeding 1.1 million miles. It employs more than 200 medical and administrative staff and responds to more than 47,000 requests for transport services annually. 

About Mission: Lifeline

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines. For more information, visit www.heart.org/missionlifeline and www.heart.org/quality.