Beating the “Window of Time” by Helicopter

Faster STROKE and STEMI Transfers
Thanks to Community Hospitals and now--EMS!

Air Care is well known for stabilizing and expediting scene trauma, but stroke and heart attack victims must also reach definitive care quickly for their best chance of survival. EMS providers are increasingly making these diagnoses rapidly in the field. Like community hospitals, they can also request immediate transfer to a stroke center or heart center by air. In fact, Air Care has been activated seven times this year by EMS services to a scene location involving a stroke or heart attack. Those practicing this progressive use of resources include Three Rivers Ambulance Service, Reading Emergency Services, and Huron Valley Ambulance.

STEMI* and stroke care should begin as soon as possible. Each condition has a narrow window of time to reach definitive care for the best possible outcome. Many patients initially require blood pressure control, airway management, and other stabilizing measures commonly performed in an emergency department. Air Care’s flight nurses can begin these measures on scene just as we do in the hospital while quickly moving the patient to definitive care.

Air Care should be activated immediately when stroke is identified by history and physical exam. Paramedics that identify stroke in the field can call Air Care to begin stroke care as the patient is flown directly to a stroke center like Borgess or Bronson in Kalamazoo. Likewise, Air Care should be mobilized immediately for patients who present at community hospitals with clinical signs of stroke before the patient is taken to CT (computed tomography) so no time is wasted. These patients will be transferred to a stroke center regardless of head CT results. 

Similarly, Air Care can be activated for heart attack victims with classic symptoms and ST-elevation on ECG. These patients require no further confirmation of diagnosis and need immediate transport to a facility with heart catheterization capability, such as Borgess or Bronson in Kalamazoo. Again, deploying Air Care upon diagnosis can greatly shorten transfer times. The medical crew carries advanced cardiac therapies like heparin and nitroglycerin infusions and will implement these as indicated en route so no time is lost.

The Air Care flight team is a not only a great option for improved outcomes, but also prevents the temporary loss of EMS and nursing resources from the community when a critical patient must be transferred. Activate Air Care for stroke or STEMI presentations without delay!

*ST-elevation myocardial infarction (heart attack)

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