The Oak Lawn Fire Department has achieved the American Heart Association’s 2015 Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Level Recognition Award. The award recognizes the vital importance of Emergency Medical Services providers for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.
Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Gold award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for two years and treated at least eight STEMI patients for each year. Oak Lawn was one of only three fire departments recognized in the State of Illinois.
“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals. We applaud Oak Lawn Fire Department for achieving this award that shows it meets evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”
Every year, more than 250,000 people experience a STEMI, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a type of heart attack caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. 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.
Unfortunately, a significant number don’t receive prompt reperfusion therapy, which is critical in restoring blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes those emergency responders for their efforts in improving STEMI systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.
Emergency Medical System providers are vital to the success of Mission: Lifeline. EMS agencies provide access to 12-lead ECG machines (devices that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat and can help medical personnel determine if a heart attack has occurred), and follow protocols derived from American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines. The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify the STEMI, promptly notify the medical center, and trigger and early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
In Illinois, there are 65 EMS resource hospitals, 67 trauma centers, first responders, 37,402 emergency medical technicians, 4,665 emergency communications registered nurses, 2,842 trauma nurse specialists, 368 pre-hospital registered nurses and 2,847 emergency medical dispatchers providing 24-hour service to the people of Illinois. Approximately two-thirds of all EMS providers are volunteers.
Illinois’ EMS system also strives to integrate pediatric emergency care needs across a wide spectrum; recognizing that children have unique physiological responses to illness and injury.
To honor those who work in adult and pediatric emergency care, Governor Bruce Rauner has proclaimed May 17-23, 2015 as EMS week and May 20, 2015 as Emergency Medical Services for Children Day in Illinois.
The Village of Oak Lawn has been involved in costly labor disputes with the Oak Lawn Firefighters’ union and unsuccessfully sought to reduce the number of firefighters pursuant to minimum manning standards over the last several years.