CCEMS Wins Gold Award for Severe Heart Attack Care

In May 2015, the American Heart Association recognized Cypress Creek EMS with a Gold Award for its treatment of patients with the most dangerous and life-threatening type of heart attack, known as a STEMI or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction.

Gold Award Crop

Cypress Creek EMS was the only 2015 Gold Award Recipient in the Greater Houston area. There were 19 Gold Award Winners in the State of Texas.  Here’s the alphabetical list:

American Heart Association Gold Award Recipients in Texas
Austin Fire Department – Austin, TX
Austin-Travis County EMS – Austin, TX
BAR Fire Department – Westlake, TX
Cypress Creek EMS – Spring, TX
Garland Fire Department – Garland, TX
Grand Prairie Fire Department – Grand Prairie, TX
Lake Travis Fire Rescue – Lakeway, TX
Manchaca Fire Rescue – Manchaca, TX
Manor Fire Chief – Manor, TX
North Lake Travis Fire Rescue – Lago Vista, TX
Oak Hill Fire Department – Oak Hill, TX
Pedernales Fire Department – Spicewood, TX
Pflugerville Fire Department – Pflugerville, TX
Plano Fire Rescue – Plano, TX
Rowlett Fire Rescue – Rowlett, TX
San Antonio Fire Department – San Antonio. TX
Travis County STAR Flight – Austin, TX
Volente Fire Department – Volente, TX
Westlake Fire Department – Westlake, TX

See Entire List of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards

A STEMI means there is a blockage in one of the coronary arteries. The sooner the blockage can be cleared, the better the chances of survival. Faster treatment also reduces the chance of serious damage to the heart muscle, leading to a better quality of life for survivors.


In 2006, Cypress Creek EMS pioneered a new medical protocol for STEMI patients, spearheaded by our Medical Director, Dr. Levon Vartanian. It was the first such program ever attempted in the Greater Houston area.

Dr. Vartanian, his clinical staff, and the cardiology team at Houston Northwest Medical Center trained lead CCEMS Paramedics to read and interpret 12 lead Electrocardiograms, also known as EKGs or ECGs, allowing them to diagnose patients suffering from a life-threatening STEMI event.

After a STEMI event is confirmed by the EKG, Cypress Creek EMS paramedics initiate treatment in the ambulance that would normally occur in the emergency room. Then, the hospital is alerted, so the patient can bypass the emergency room and be taken straight to the heart catheter suite, where an interventional cardiologist performs a procedure to clear the blocked coronary artery. This involves inserting a catheter into the upper thigh and carefully snaking it through the artery to the blockage, where a small balloon is inflated to clear the blockage and restore normal blood flow.

The national goal established by the American Heart Association is to get such a patient from the hospital door to balloon inflation in 90 minutes. Since CCEMS begins care in the ambulance and bypasses the emergency room, our “hospital door to balloon inflation” time is just over 50 minutes. And, the CCEMS time from the scene to balloon inflation is just 86 minutes and from the 9-1-1 call to inflation is 97 minutes.

This innovative medical protocol was first established in cooperation with Houston Northwest Medical Center, but is now standard practice for all of the hospitals within the Cypress Creek EMS service area.

Due to its success, the STEMI Alert protocol has been replicated across the state and nation. The American Heart Association has invited Cypress Creek EMS to present data on our STEMI alert program at several scientific conferences, in an effort to establish the program in more locations.