Avera Medical Minute AHH: Perfecting STEMI Heart Attack Care - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AHH: Perfecting STEMI Heart Attack Care

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They are about as easy to identify as they are to say, we're talking about STEMI's or ST Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarctions. These deadly heart attacks require a quick diagnosis and quick treatment. Not an easy task for a rural state, but South Dakota has become the benchmark for emergency services across the country.

At it's core, Mission: Lifeline has been working to identify and efficiently treat the deadliest form of heart attack, the STEMI.  

"We want to get those patients from wherever they're at and get them into a cath lab as fast as possible so that doctors can perform the procedures and open up that vessel and get them back on the road to recovery." Said Gary Myers, the director of South Dakota Mission: Lifeline.

STEMI outcomes depend entirely on the care patients receive and how quickly they get it.
With 66 counties and 76,000 square miles in the state, Mission: Lifeline is ensuring that happens.

"We have mobilized the resources of our EMS systems and leveraged them to be able to offer the rural patient in South Dakota the same opportunity that would be afforded if you lived in downtown Manhattan or San Francisco, California." Said Dr. Michael Hibbard, a cardiologist at the North Central Heart Institute.

Thanks to the Helmsley Charitable Trust every EMS service in the state has the equipment and the ability to identify a STEMI heart attack.

"We probably wouldn't be able to afford to buy all this equipment being the small town that we are." Said Helen Boyd, a volunteer EMT in Plankinton.

Each ambulance has a 12-lead electrocardiogram, a machine that can trace a patient's heart rhythm and then transmit the information to the hospital from the field. Technology is great, but in order to start that crucial chain of cardiac care people must call for help.  

"Folks need to realize that calling 911 activates a healthcare team. An ambulance is not just a ride to the hospital, it is the first medical contact that they receive on any medical emergency and that starts the process." Said Myers.

It's a process that most definitely saved Gerald Heismeyer from Plankinton.

"I woke up and along with my cup of coffee I had a heart attack." Said Heismeyer.

First responder Helen Boyd sent a 12-lead ECG to doctors at Avera Queen of Peace who were then ready to intervene when Gerald arrived. Avera CareFlight was then waiting to transport him to the cath lab at the Avera Heart Hospital.

"I did look out the window of the helicopter and I thought I saw on angel flying beside it but couldn't be too sure." Said Heismeyer.

In Gerald's case, hours waiting for intervention were reduced to minutes. Now four stents later he's walking the road to recovery.

"This is a perfect example of how it's supposed to work and how everyone should work together, in South Dakota we are really advanced in our STEMI protocols." Said Dr. David Balt, an emergency physician at Avera Queen of Peace. 

with Mission: Lifeline, South Dakota performs higher than the national averages in all the key components of STEMI protocols. Overall treatment, door to balloon time, and even first response to balloon time. Not bad for a rural state.

"I would not be here, I have no doubt in my mind that the only reason that I am here is because a whole lot of people including the first crew that pick me up they all did the right things at the right time." Said Heismeyer.

Mission: Lifeline is not only making a difference, it's perfecting the standard of care.  

"Most of the things that happen in the country we think that the movers and shakers are on the coast, here in South Dakota I want you to know that we are rocking the cardiology world and making an example here for everyone else in the country to follow." Said Dr. Hibbard.

For more information about Mission: Lifeline and emergency services just call 877-AT-AVERA.
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