TriStar Centennial September 07, 2012

Paramedics can now transmit critical patient heart data from the field to the hospital

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 7, 2012) – Cheatham County Emergency Medical Services received life-saving mobile data transmission technology through a new community partnership with TriStar Ashland City Medical Center in Ashland City, Tenn.

Paramedics working with Cheatham County EMS now have the capability to transmit electrocardiograms, or EKGs, directly from the scene where they are evaluating a patient experiencing symptoms of a heart attack to a physician in the emergency room.

Mobile data transmission capability enables critical heart data to reach an emergency medicine physician and cardiologist before a patient even arrives at the hospital. The additional time a medical team has to evaluate the situation and prepare for interventional treatment of a heart attack victim can be the difference between life and death.

“For patients experiencing a life-threatening heart attack, time is muscle,” explained Mark Byram, M.D., emergency medicine physician at TriStar Ashland City. “Time is especially important for patients who live a long distance from a hospital.”

When paramedics arrive on the scene of a patient experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, they use a machine called a 12-lead EKG defibrillator to capture an image of the patient’s heart rhythm. That image, the EKG, is what’s used by a physician to evaluate the patient’s condition.

“Using state-of-the-art technology, paramedics working with Cheatham County EMS now have the capability to transmit 12-lead EKGs from the scene directly to the hospital in Ashland City as well as to TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville,” explained Byram. “For patients having a heart attack, this is a tremendous advancement because it allows the physician to quickly review the EKG and activate a "Code STEMI."

A "Code STEMI” refers to the process that occurs when a team trained to treat chest pain patients is called together at the hospital. With the new mobile transmission capability, the cardiologist and catheterization laboratory team can be notified before the patient arrives at the hospital and can be waiting to take the patient immediately for interventional treatment.

Before this technology was installed for Cheatham County EMS, the paramedic would have to wait until arriving at the ER to provide a physician with the patient’s EKG. Now paramedics can transmit EKGs to the hospital ER in near real-time using data-capable cellular phones.

The team at TriStar Ashland City has strong processes in place to evaluate and treat patients experiencing chest pain in their emergency room, as well as to coordinate patient transfer to TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., when heart surgery is needed. But the TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center team is always looking for ways to expedite and enhance the evaluation process to get a patient to the right physician for the right care in the quickest amount of time.

“Technology serves as a tool to connect providers through every step of the patient care process. Mobile technology enhances our ability to provide the best possible patient care for life-threatening heart events,” explained James Drumwright, administrator of TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center. “We know that Cheatham County residents will benefit greatly from their EMS personnel’s ability to transmit near real-time heart data directly to the emergency room. Partnering with the Cheatham County community to make this needed capability a reality is very exciting for everyone on our TriStar Centennial and TriStar Ashland City team.”

According to Tennessee state data, the majority of paramedics have the capability to capture EKG data at the scene of a medical emergency, but only a small percentage have the capability to transmit EKG data from the field.

Cheatham County mayor David McCullough believes this is another example of how Cheatham County works with community partners to enhance quality healthcare options for residents.

“When TriStar Ashland City leadership approached the county about exploring options to make our EMS vehicles capable of transmitting data electronically, I knew we had a great opportunity to improve emergency services for our residents and enhance our connection with the county’s only hospital,” he said. “We are appreciative of their dedication to making this technology available to our paramedics and for a continued partnership that allows us to work together in the best interests of our community.”

Celebrating 25 years of providing access to quality healthcare for Ashland City and surrounding communities as Cheatham County’s only hospital, TriStar Ashland City is a 12-bed critical access hospital offering a broad spectrum of inpatient and outpatient services, including 24/7 emergency care. Additional services include inpatient admissions, surgical services, outpatient lab work, diagnostic medical imaging, and rehabilitation therapy. TriStar Ashland City is backed by TriStar Centennial if more specialized care is needed. For more information about the services offered and health plans accepted by TriStar Ashland City, call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 or (800) 242-5662, or visit and choose TriStar Ashland City. TriStar Ashland City is located at 313 North Main Street in Ashland City, Tenn.

Pictured Above: Celebrating the new Cheatham County EMS and TriStar Ashland City partnership, Ricky Reed, Assistant Cheatham County EMS director, Danny Schaffer, Cheatham County EMS director, Darrell White, TriStar Ashland City administrator, and David McCullough, Cheatham County mayor pose for a photo with the new EKG technology is on display.

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