NORFOLK -- Some of Hampton Roads' ambulance services have gone high-tech to help patients in the event of a heart attack.
Thanks to the installment of Bluetooth-connected heart monitors, EMS workers can send a patient's EKG results to the hospital before they even arrive.
Norfolk Fire & Rescue has taken advantage of this vital technology.
'It would be a couple of hours getting transported to the emergency room, going inside the emergency room, getting a[n] EKG, and then going to the cath lab,' said Norfolk Battalion Chief Julian Williamson about the amount of time it used to take for a heart attack patient to get treated at the hospital. During those hours, a person continues to lose blood flow to the heart and runs a higher risk of internal damage.
The introduction of Bluetooth technology substantially cuts that response time, alerting doctors at the hospital that an emergency heart patient is en route.
'That way it gets the ball rolling on the hospital side. And then once we get in the ambulance we do all of our things for pre-hospital care and then we will transport and they'll get that way ahead of time,' Norfolk Paramedic/Firefighter Kevin Scholl said.
The quick, wireless transmission of important heart rhythm information means medical teams can make critical decisions much earlier.
Speed and efficiency when treating a heart attack patient are crucial. Battalion Chief Williamson says there is a ninety-minute window between the initial 9-1-1 call of chest pain and hospital treatment. Bluetooth-capable devices allow medics and doctors to shave valuable minutes off of response time, which could mean the difference between life and death for the patient.
'If we didn't have this and we couldn't take a look at your heart and see what was going on, then we would treat it just like any other call and you would go to a bed in the hospital and once they got... the more severe patients taken care of. Then they would get to you, and by that time, you could have irreversible damage,' Williamson said.
Bluetooth-connected heart monitors have been installed in all twelve Norfolk ambulances, as well as other ambulance services throughout Hampton Roads.