Upgrades target faster, better heart attack care

People suffering from heart attacks can avoid life-threatening delays at three Capital Region hospit

People suffering from heart attacks can avoid life-threatening delays at three Capital Region hospitals now that emergency medical technicians can send electrocardiograms using new wireless technology.

A handful of area emergency medical services last month received refurbished defibrillator and monitor machines equipped with Motorola’s Bluetooth technology. The upgrades allow EMTs to use cellphones to transmit information about patients’ heart conditions. EKGs record a heart’s electric activity.

The defibrillator enhancements enable physicians in emergency rooms to diagnose heart attack victims while they are en route to the hospital and to prepare for their treatment.

“By saving time, we truly save lives,” said Dr. Samuel Bosco, chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany.

The upgrades should shave up to 30 minutes off the standard 90 minutes it takes from when a patient arrives at a hospital to when doctors open coronary vessels.

Initially, three EMS organizations and the Albany County Sheriff’s Department will use the Bluetooth technology. They will transmit the EKG data to Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, St. Peter’s and Albany Medical Center.

At a Thursday news conference at the Colonie Public Safety Building, hospital, EMS and health insurance officials unveiled the upgrades. They are part of the Save a Life program.

Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan donated $62,500 to the program. Albany Med also secured a $50,000 grant from the Dominic Ferraioli Foundation for the initiative.

“We believe that as this idea is promulgated, it will be adopted across the state and the nation,” said CDPHP President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. William Cromie.

The Bluetooth upgrades were conducted on 13 Lifepak devices made by Physio-Control in Redmond, Wash. The Schenectady-based Mohawk Ambulance Service, Colonie EMS and Greene County EMS also have been equipped with the Bluetooth Lifepaks.

For the past year, Mohawk and the Albany Fire Department have been able to transmit EKG readings via cellphones connected to Lifepaks with cables. But the cable applications are not always practical or cost efficient.

“We’re going to save crucial minutes for these patients,” said Dr. Michael Daily, medical director for the Regional Emergency Medical Organization and the director of Pre-hospital Care and Education at Albany Med.

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