Ivan Rokos, M.D. has referred to primary PCI for acute STEMI as “the most complex, multi-disciplinary, and time-sensitive therapeutic intervention in the world of medicine.”
The emphasis on door-to-balloon times, and more recently, first medical contact or EMS-to-balloon times has transformed how acutely ill patients suffering heart attacks receive timely reperfusion in many communities, because as we’re so often told, “time is muscle.”
While some believe that the emphasis on door-to-balloon times has unintended consequences, in our opinion the real-life stories of the men and women who build these systems of care illustrate the very best of what modern medicine has to offer.
A single 9-1-1 call (9-9-9 in the UK) triggers an awe-inspiring series of highly coordinated events that clearly demonstrate that despite all of our arguments about health care and how it should be paid for, when a fellow human being is in danger, we will work together to save that person’s life.
We will exercise exceptional caring and competence, and then return that patient to their family. We give them another chance.
Many of us in EMS (and other areas of medicine) love survivor stories because it makes us feel good to know we’ve helped another human being. That’s why we got into medicine in the first place. But then something happened. We became jaded. We became cynical. We saw the worst in people.
The Code STEMI Web Series is a salute to the individual EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians who had the courage and the insight to change the status quo and build something very meaningful that directly influences whether our friends, neighbors, or even our family members live or die.
Change can be difficult. It can be painful. It takes us out of our comfort zone and sometimes it rearranges the pecking order. Yet, we must change, whether it’s allowing EMTs to acquire and transmit a 12-lead ECG, activating the cardiac cath lab at 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, or learning how to reduce “door-in to door-out” (DIDO) times at Critical Access Hospitals so that heart attack patients have the best possible chance of survival.
As Michael Hibbard, M.D. reminds us, it’s not the strong who survive. It’s those who are most able to adapt to change.
Our most recent episode of the Code STEMI web series looks at the London Ambulance Service. It is the busiest, and arguably one of the best EMS systems in the world. We interview front line EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians as well as survivors. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed filming it so you can share our enthusiasm for witnessing a job well done.
Follow the #CodeSTEMI hashtag on Twitter!