Westlake has elite team of first responders

Westlake firefighter/paramedics Patrick Crawford, left, and Eddie Chernisky hold the AHA Gold Plus Award. Photo by Megan Stewart

On Nov. 19, the American Heart Association (AHA) presented the Westlake Fire Department with its Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award for excellence in treating heart attack victims.

This marks Westlake’s fifth Gold Award in six years. They won a Silver Award in the gap year.

In the case of heart attacks, every minute counts. Triage before arrival to the hospital is crucial to survival.

The AHA recommends an EKG in the field for all patients with suspicious chest pain. EMS needs to alert the nearest cardiac cath lab within 10 minutes. The time from the first EMS contact to the first therapeutic intervention in a hospital should be less than 90 minutes. The Gold status is awarded for those with a 75% compliance rate for two consecutive years.

Alexander Kuhn, Senior Director of Quality and Systems Improvement of AHA, said by working closely, the Westlake Fire Department and UH St. John Medical Center (SJMC) have consistently beat out that goal. Only 31 Ohio agencies received this distinction of high-quality care.

Westlake's Fire Chief Jim Hughes said, “[We] provide our best to everybody – everyday.” He thanked the City of Westlake for providing the necessary “equipment and support.”

Linda Owen, manager of Cardiovascular Services for the Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at SJMC, said her team “works with Jim [Hughes] and his crew closely ... on a daily basis. Starting with that first phone call, we have great success.”

Kuhn reported that in the 10 years between 2007 and 2017, there’s a 41% decrease in heart attack-related deaths in Cuyahoga County, which translates to 247 lives saved per year.

“Thanks to the fire department’s EMS crew,” Mayor Dennis Clough said, “a lot of people are living today, celebrating Thanksgiving.”

Read More on Local News
Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:12 AM, 12.03.2019