Union County Ambulance is one of 21 agencies in Illinois to be recognized for their outstanding work in the area of cardiac care.
The Jonesboro-based service has received the American Heart Association's Lifeline EMS Bronze Award for implementing measures to better treat patients who experience severe heart attacks.
Union County Ambulance director Grant Capel says they earned the award thanks to an agreement with Memorial Hospital of Carbondale where EMS providers are trained to recognize important heart attack clues in the field, notify the hospital and have a surgery team waiting when they arrive.
"What they want to see is from the incident time to the balloon time, what they call it if they're going to put in a stint, they'd like to see that in less than 90 minutes. This is all a part of national figures that are helping to make sure they can guard the heart muscle against any other permanent damage that might happen if it had gone without blood flow much longer."
He says the idea is to bring the treatment to the patient instead of the patient to the treatment.
"In other words, a lot of things that would happen in the emergency room are now happening in the back of that truck, which saves the patient time. Often, that's what your biggest advantage is is working against the clock. You need the time and the earlier we can do an intervention, hopefully the better the outcome for the patient."
Capel says this is especially important in a rural area like Union County, where the ambulance is often 30 minutes or more away from Carbondale.