New mobile EKG data machines save lives faster

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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- Salt Lake hospitals and fire departments are increasing efforts to save the lives of more heart attack victims. The key is to transmit data faster.

Through Bluetooth technology, a specialized cell phone connected to the EKG data machine in some newly-equipped paramedic vehicles sends an e-mail to the hospital instantly. It can save the patient 10, 15, even 20 minutes in the hospital emergency room.

Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Matt Taylor said, "Statistics show that by having this technology in Salt Lake County, we'll be able to save 30 more lives than we have in the past. That may not sound like a lot of lives, but if you're one of those 30, it's important to you."

With the economic downturn, the technology link was not financially feasible for all partnerships. The Utah Hospital Association made a $133,000 donation to the Salt Lake Valley Fire Departments.

"It started in Davis County and is working its way through the state," said Deb Wynkoop of the Utah Hospital Association. "I think you will see the entire Wasatch Front, also Washington County and Cache County, eventually."

At St. Mark's Hospital, the information from the paramedics and the EKG data machine comes to the charge nurse desk first. In the past, paramedics phoned information about the patient, but E.R. doctors and nurses could not see what the paramedics were seeing.

"For heart attacks, time is muscle, time is heart muscle, time is survival," said E.R. Medical Director at St. Mark's Hospital Julie Fox, M.D. "Any minutes that we can shave off of that time to the patient getting treated, definitively in the cath lab, means that more people survive their heart attacks."

And not only survive, doctors say, but have a better quality of life.



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