Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division paramedics were recognized Tuesday for using new tools to help victims of serious heart problems survive and recover.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) presented the town with its Heart Safe Community Award for “creative efforts” to prevent and treat serious heart problems, including sudden cardiac arrest.
Hilton Head’s Fire & Rescue Division was honored for improving out-of-hospital resuscitation by actively training and certifying residents in cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which help shock a person’s heart back to normal rhythm.
The Fire & Rescue Division was also recognized for partnering with Hilton Head Hospital to provide advance notification in prepping to receive heart attack patients. Recently implemented procedures and new equipment allow vital data to be transmitted to the hospital at the same time patients are being tended by paramedics. Doctors at the hospital, armed with the data they review before patients arrive, are prepared to treat them immediately.
The new procedures save crucial time, allowing doctors to restore blood flow to the heart more quickly, according to Fire & Rescue and hospital officials.
Several hospitals in the state have started the procedures as part of a national initiative pushed by the American Heart Association to improve care for heart attack patients.
Beaufort County EMS also uses the procedures.
In addition to transmitting data on heart attack patients, the Fire & Rescue Division and the hospital recently began using another procedure -- induced hypothermia -- to treat patients experiencing cardiac arrest. Read more here.
The award is given in two categories, honoring departments representing populations over and fewer than 100,000.
Each winning agency receives admission, airfare, ground transportation, hotel and meal expenses for two to the Fire-Rescue Med conference earlier this month in Las Vegas, as well as a crystal trophy.
“We are extremely proud to win this distinguished award as a Heart Safe Community,” Fire Chief Lavarn Lucas said. “It’s validation of our efforts to minimize the death and suffering associated with cardiovascular disease. It’s a testament to our partnership with our citizens who we depend on to perform bystander CPR, and it reflects the outstanding teamwork between our EMTs and paramedics and the nurses and physicians at Hilton Head Hospital.”