Who’s On First? (In EMS Heart Attack Care)

Editor’s Note: After many years in the news business as a reporter and a manager, my “Old School” journalism habits are hard to break. Therefore, what you are about to read is COMMENTARY, because it includes my opinions. It is not a NEWS STORY, because it includes my opinions, and should be labelled as such. Now that I’ve taken a swipe at some of today’s working journalists and successfully prevented my late journalism professors and news directors from rolling over in their graves, let’s begin:

Whenever I read news stories from around the country about “new” prehospital protocols my first reaction is to chuckle a bit, because it’s almost always something that Cypress Creek EMS has been doing for years and in many cases it’s something that we pioneered either on the local, state or national level.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Times article about the action taken in Camden, New Jersey in 2011.

“They decided to have paramedics do an electrocardiogram, which can show the characteristic electrical pattern of the heart that signals a heart attack, as soon as they reached the patient and transmit it directly to the emergency room. That meant the staff could spring into action the moment the ambulance pulled in.” You can read the whole story here.

Don’t get me wrong. It gives me a great sense of pride that other hospitals and EMS agencies are saving more lives by doing what we’ve been doing since 2006. (Tip of the hat here to our Medical Director Dr. Levon Vartanian, Northwest Medical Center, the CCEMS Board of Directors, the CCEMS Clinical Staff, our medics and Executive Director Brad England for giving birth to this life-saving protocol.)

And now back to our story, uh, commentary:

The problem from my point of view is that there aren’t enough people out there who know about the emergency medical innovations that are happening at Cypress Creek EMS. So, as the Public Information Officer and as a resident of the CCEMS service area, I can’t resist the urge to point that out as often as possible.

Lucas Device Demonstation

Lucas Device Demonstration

Let’s move on to the Lucas Device. (For you non-medical folks, that a portable machine which provides consistent CPR chest compressions.) Anyone that has done CPR for an extended period of time knows how tiring it is and studies have shown that the effectiveness of CPR declines with fatigue.

In 2007, immediately after it was first approved by the FDA, Cypress Creek was the first EMS in Texas to deploy the Lucas device and one of four agencies in the country to that were first to deploy.

This is from recent story is about Lucas being introduced in North Dakota.

“While some hospitals and ambulances in Bismarck are currently using the LUCAS device, others, especially in rural areas, are not.”

The story goes on to say that there is now grant money available to help deploy more Lucas devices. You can read that story and/or watch the video of the TV story here.

There’s also this Lucas article from 2009 about the CCEMS experience with the device.

So, when you read stories from other parts of the country about innovations such as inducing hypothermia with chilled saline to save heart muscle and prevent brain damage to heart attack patients, or the use of the specialized airway devices to increase blood flow to the heart, be proud that YOUR Cypress Creek EMS is already using these devices and techniques and be happy for the folks in other parts of the country who now have access to much better prehospital care.

Sometimes my mind does funny things. It just flashed back to the old Abbott and Costello routine, WHO’s ON FIRST?

From: The Library of Congress New York World Telegram and Sun Collection

From: The Library of Congress New York World Telegram and Sun Collection

The answer, in many cases, is Cypress Creek EMS.

One final note to working journalists who may find this commentary while doing a GOOGLE search. If you’d like to interview an innovator in prehospital severe heart attack care, the phone number at Cypress Creek EMS is 713-378-0800.

See related story on American Heart Association Award

See related story on Awards from Methodist Willowbrook Hospital

See story on size of Cypress Creek’s Service Area