February 26, 2021

Saint Anne’s Hospital’s Advance Communication System with EMS Speeds Up Heart Attack Care

Photo (left-right): Fall River Emergency Medical Services paramedics Amanda Lambert and Kyle Carpenter; Jeff Middleton; and Sadip Pant, MD, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Saint Anne’s Hospital

Fall River, MA - It didn’t take long for Jeff Middleton to recognize his chest pain as something serious.

“It came on quickly,” the Fall River resident says. “I was at my house talking with a friend, and afterwards, I felt a mild chest pain that started out like heartburn.”

When the pain didn’t just go away, Jeff’s friend called 911. The ambulance arrived quickly.

“I told them something was not right,” Jeff says. “I felt like I was in and out of consciousness because the pain was getting worse and worse.”

“When we arrived, he was anxious, sweating and gripping his chest,” says Kyle Carpenter, a paramedic for Fall River Emergency Medical Services. “We did an EKG within the first two minutes. You could see immediately that this was a heart attack.”

When it comes to a heart attack, every minute counts. So, Kyle’s ambulance partner, paramedic Amanda Lambert, used a state-of-the-art electronic communication system to share Jeff’s electrocardiogram (EKG) with the emergency team at Saint Anne’s Hospital.

Saint Anne’s Hospital’s emergency department uses this electronic communication tool to enable EMS providers to share critical patient information before they arrive at the emergency department.  By providing patient vitals, such as heart rate, blood pressure, images and other key information, the emergency department team can review the patient’s condition and prepare for arrival. This advance communication can trim minutes off the time it takes to begin delivering life-saving care.

“By receiving this information prior to the patient’s arrival, we were able to activate our team, ask about the patient’s medical history and medications even before the patient reached our ER,” says Sadip Pant, MD, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Saint Anne’s Hospital. “It gives us a great advantage.”

“Normally, we’d give report to the nurse as we arrive, and they’d have to order their own EKG,” says Carpenter. “That could take 10 or 15 minutes. Having this tool to send information in advance sped up the process. Everything was activated and ready to roll when we arrived.”

“Jeff was pretty sick when he came in,” Dr. Pant says. “He had a major blockage in his right artery.” 

“They told me, ‘it’s a good thing you got here when you did,’” Jeff says.

Dr. Pant performed a balloon angioplasty to clear Jeff’s blockage and place the stent. This procedure uses a tiny balloon that is opened inside the artery to push back the blockage. A stent is then placed to act as a wall to keep the artery open, allowing blood to flow freely.

The American College of Cardiology sets a goal for providing this type of life-saving care within 90 minutes of the patient’s arrival to the hospital. Thanks to the time-saving processes in place, Dr. Pant and his team were able to place a stent to remove Jeff’s blockage in just 73 minutes.

Jeff reports he’s feeling better now and is working on quitting smoking. He’s grateful for the care he received from first responders and hospital caregivers. 

“I give each and every one of them credit,” he says. “They saved my life.”

Learn more about cardiology care at Saint Anne’s Hospital.

Would You Recognize a Heart Attack?

Most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain or discomfort, but some can be sudden and intense. Call 911 if you experience:

  • Chest discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body, such as both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, including breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

Both men and women may experience shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting, and jaw, neck, or back pain. Women may have a pain or pressure in the lower chest and upper abdomen, or may also experience fainting, indigestion, or extreme fatigue.