STEMI Heart Attack Drill Gives BMH Staff Hands-On Training

3 mins read

There’s no time to learn on the job when a patient is suffering a heart attack, which is why the staff at Beaufort Memorial Hospital uses quarterly drills to ensure it is ready for the real thing.

Beaufort Memorial held an unannounced heart attack drill last week where a “patient” – convincingly portrayed by paramedic Mike O’Regan – was picked up by Beaufort EMS and transported by ambulance to the hospital. There the Emergency Department and Heart Center teams ran through all procedures as if this were an actual emergency. 

In this particular scenario, the “patient” was treated and stabilized in the cath lab, but required immediate transport to MUSC for further treatment. After intervention by cardiologist Stuart Smalheiser, MD, and the BMH cardiovascular team, the patient was prepped for transport by the Meducare Air (Med-Trans) medical flight team.

These types of drills, conducted quarterly at BMH, are part of a continuing effort to improve cardiac care for patients suffering an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) – the most dangerous type of heart attack. They offer the opportunity for EMTs to interact with the receiving hospital staff and to test protocols in both the field and the hospital, and for the hospital team to run through procedures and coordinate with the transport team. 

STEMIs occur when there is a sudden blockage of one of the three coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. Without blood, the heart muscle will die. To increase the patient’s chance of survival and limit the amount of heart muscle that is permanently damaged, the clotted artery needs to be opened as quickly as possible. 

“Standard of care across the U.S. is less than 90 minutes from the time the patient arrives at the door of the ER to intervention,” said Tiffany Schweitzer, PhD, the hospital’s STEMI quality coordinator. “Beaufort Memorial continues to treat patients more quickly than that standard. These quarterly drills enable us to focus on time accountability, while maintaining the highest levels of patient care and safety.”

Beaufort Memorial recently received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2018, one of only 203 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor. To receive the award, the hospital must demonstrate sustained achievement for eight consecutive quarters and perform at the top level of standards for specific performance measures during that time. 

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