Los Angeles will implement a new "HEART Program" to speed the diagnosis and treatment of heart attack by paramedics in the field. A major element of the new program will be replacing the currently used 3-lead or 4-lead EKG systems used by paramedics with more accurate and more revealing 12-lead systems, according to information released by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
“Our new 12-lead EKG will help doctors diagnose the acute heart attack and get the patient the right care in the shortest amount of time,” said Franklin Pratt, M.D., medical director of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The Annenberg Foundation provided a $3 million grant to fund the new program, which involves an unprecedented partnership between the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City Fire Departments and the American Heart Association. The department expects the new system is likely to substantially improve survival rates and put in place the most advanced level of emergency cardiac care of any major city in the United States.
“This program excites us because it promises to make a significant difference in the health care and quality of life of people in Los Angeles, giving them every possible advantage in their fight against heart disease,” said Wallis Annenberg, vice president of the Annenberg Foundation.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department is one of the largest emergency service agencies in the world, providing fire protection and life safety services to more than 3.8 million residents and commercial customers in a 2,296 square mile area. Pratt estimates that of its approximate 650 daily calls, nearly 20% are related to cardiac chest pain alone.
Paramedic units currently use 3-lead and 4-lead EKGs, which have been in the field for the last 30 years. Previously only available in hospitals, the 12-lead EKG is estimated to save 31,000 lives each year and will allow paramedics in the field to determine in two minutes whether the patient is experiencing an acute heart attack.
Elements of the Wallis Annenberg HEART Program for Los Angeles include:
- Conversion of more than 170 paramedic units (103 LA City and 159 LA County) to the 12-lead EKG.
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support training and equipment for 1,450 paramedics from the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City Fire Departments.
- Tracking and analysis of data collected during program implementation.
- Based on the outcomes of program implementation, development of a recommended national model for other major metropolitan areas to follow.