Wednesday, July 6, 2016

TFD earns AHA Lifeline Award

The Tacoma Fire Department (TFD) has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Award, the highest level of recognition for this program, for implementing operational and quality improvement procedures that expedite treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 people nationwide experience a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

Fortunately for the more than 220,000 citizens served by TFD—including those living in Tacoma, Fircrest, Fife and Fire District 10—the firefighter-paramedics and firefighter-EMTs work closely with Tacoma General Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center as part of a comprehensive emergency cardiac care system. “This system benefits our citizens who have a STEMI-type heart attack each year, as well as those who experience other serious cardiac conditions,” said TFD’s Medical Service Officer Mike Newhouse.

TFD was recognized for its early and accurate interpretation of 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs), which can determine if a heart attack is occurring, and for following protocols derived from national guidelines. The correct tools and training allow firefighter-paramedics to rapidly identify a STEMI patient and alert the hospitals that an incoming patient will need immediate treatment in a cardiac lab. This gives the hospitals time to assemble a specialized cardiac team to treat the patient.