A Cut Above
UMC EMS received the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2023 Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Award for its commitment to offering rapid research-based care for the most severe forms of heart attacks and strokes. This year marks the fifth consecutive year UMC EMS has been recognized by the AHA for its stellar practice, making life-saving differences concerning neurological and cardiovascular emergencies. To receive the Gold designation indicates the highest level of achievement available to hospitals through the national organization.
“Nationwide, only 6% of people walk out of the hospital after a cardiac arrest,” said Chad Curry, UMC EMS Training Chief, citing the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) registry and statistics from the AHA. “UMC’s walk out rate is 22%. I want it to be higher than that.” To achieve survival rates nearly four times the national average, UMC EMS employs a broad, innovative strategy using sophisticated technology and consistent, research-based training.
Game-Changing Technology Paired with the Newest Research
As part of UMC EMS’s strategy to improve survival rates during cardiovascular emergencies, the team intends to utilize semi-automated LUCAS CPR machines capable of performing near-perfect CPR for long periods that would otherwise require intense manual effort. Chad also mentioned Double-Sequential Defibrillation (DSD), a tactic proven repeatedly to provide higher survival rates for those suffering during a life-threatening emergency. These practices are endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Cardiology, and other leaders in research throughout the country. “Mission: Lifeline has, in part, guided us toward what it calls ‘better success stories.’ In EMS, we always think we have one opportunity to make that family reunion happen.” Employing every tested methodology, every resource at the team’s disposal provides those opportunities where, otherwise, they may have been lost.
While technology and modern research are critical to garnering the best survivability results for our patients, part of UMC EMS’s success depends on the building of a broader educational infrastructure—teaching young students and the general public—about the importance of CPR, AEDs, and how, in an emergency, every second counts.
Putting Our Heart Into Our Community
“Our success as healthcare providers, as EMS or physicians, or any other discipline within the medical field, is ultimately successful on the efforts of not only our clinical practices and not only what we do every day as administrators, as clinicians, as educators, as community advocates—a lot of it has to do with educating, informing, and engaging the public,” said Thomas Moore, UMC EMS Director.
UMC EMS is responsible for training some 22,000 high school students annually and over 600 members of the general public annually in both Stop the Bleed and CPR, two skills directly responsible for saving countless lives. In a recent example of the training’s impact, a 17-year-old’s arm was caught in a cattle enclosure at the Slaton ISD agricultural farm, severely injuring his wrist. Two students trained in Stop the Bleed, a course widely taught by our EMS staff, retrieved a tourniquet, successfully placed it, and saved their fellow student’s life. In another example, recently highlighted in UMC’s 2023 Annual Report, Dr. Stephen Stewart, a former provider at UMC’s Emergency Center, attended his daughter’s high school graduation in May. As the family prepared to leave, they noticed Stephen hadn’t returned when they expected. His family soon realized that Stephen had passed out and had no pulse, prompting them and nearby students to immediately initiate CPR and retrieve an AED to attempt to restart Stephen’s arrested heart. Those students were trained due to the initiatives put in place by our hard-working EMS.
Looking to the Future of Emergency Care
In considering how to improve EMS’s already outstanding formula, Chad said, “We’re looking to achieve the Pediatric Care-specific recognition [from the AHA]. We’re already doing the care, so we’re certain the recognition will come.”
In reflecting on achieving the Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold award, Chad and Thomas each smiled (in two separate meetings) when I asked the question: “Were we already consistently performing at a level that would have achieved the recognition criteria, or did we observe the criteria and try to meet its standards?” Chad said, “We’ve always been doing the work; evidence-based practice. We stay ahead of the curve and are always learning. That’s why we’ve received this recognition and why our survival rates are exceptional.” Thomas, in a similar sentiment, said, “This award is indicative of the high-quality prehospital medical care our EMS clinicians provide each day. Our success is ultimately dependent on the collaborative, coordinated efforts of individual prehospital providers and healthcare systems, as well as an engaged and informed public that can recognize medical emergencies. We are proud to be able to provide rapid, evidence-based care to the residents and visitors of our communities.”
Where seconds matter, our community benefits from EMS being as good as they say they are—bar none, national leaders bringing our whole community into the fold of life-saving education, training, and awareness. Thomas couldn’t have said it better when he said, ”When you call, you’re in good hands. Someone’s going to be there to take care of you.”
UMC offers its wholesale congratulations to the team on their monumental accomplishment.
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