News Center

Monday, August 10, 2009

St. Francis equips metro area emergency trucks with wireless heart attack monitors

INDIANAPOLIS – Time is critical when a heart attack patient is being transported by ambulance to the emergency room. And that time is being further reduced for Morgan County residents.

St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers and Brown Township Fire & Rescue have forged a partnership that will save lives and improve outcomes for heart attacks. St. Francis has financed the installation of specialized communications modems for two advanced life support trucks.

The modems allow paramedics to attach equipment and transmit patients’ electrocardiograms (EKGs) in real time to emergency room physicians. The EKG readings enable St. Francis and other hospitals to activate their catheterization labs for those experiencing ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarctions (STEMI).

“Clinical studies have shown that methods to speed the identification, transportation and intervention for these patients can lead to a significant reduction in potentially serious outcomes,” said Michael Hertel, executive director of the St. Francis Heart Center. “Reducing those outcomes occurs when first responders, emergency department physicians, cardiologists, nurses and other clinical staff work as a team and have the necessary technology and information to treat heart attack patients quickly.”

Morgan County officials also expressed confidence in the benefits of ambulance EKG technology.

“As an advanced cardiac life support instructor and an administrator, I sincerely believe the technology will make a monumental difference in the lives of those experiencing cardiovascular disorders,” said Steve Brock, president of Morgan County Emergency Medical Services and coordinator of Brown Township Fire & Rescue EMS.

St. Francis launched its on-board EKG program April 1, 2009. So far, it has equipped 36 emergency vehicles in Marion, Johnson, Shelby and Morgan counties with the technology.

St. Francis recently received high marks for its heart attack outcomes from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In mid-July, CMS reported St. Francis as having the lowest heart attack death rates among Indiana hospitals and ranked 19th nationally among 4,600 reporting hospitals

A major factor in St. Francis’ success in treating cardiac patients is its Emergency Heart Attack Response Team. The program, the first of its kind in the medical world, cuts down the time between a patient's arrival at the emergency room and treatment, lessening the severity of the attack and saving substantially more heart muscle. This greatly improves the patient's chances of making a full recovery.

This program has been recognized by the nation's top heart specialists and organizations – even earning a write-up in Circulation. In fact, the protocol has been requested by more than 300 hospitals and heart experts across the country and the world.

To learn more about the services offered at St. Francis Heart Center, go to