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Washington County EMS receive a national honor

Certificate showing the Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus award.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Last week, Washington County and Johnson City EMS received a national award for their treatments for heart attack victims. The American Heart Association honored them with the Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus designation.

The award recognizes both the paramedics' performance in the field, and the ability of hospitals they work with to quickly treat heart attack victims. The job requires them to excel in chaotic circumstances.

"There's always been a field expression used that we bring the calm to the storm," paramedic Ryan Strozier said.

But it's not just the calm, it's the tools they bring that also make a difference.

"So all of our ambulances have mobile internet or wireless access throughout them," ambulance Sergeant Adam Copas said. "Our monitors are able to pick up that signal, be it in the ambulance, or in a residence, or within so many feet of that signal. We can interpret that EKG and then send it via fax, through that Wi-Fi system, to those receiving hospitals."

The heart monitors have 10 leads that can provide twelve different readings on the heart. The leads are attached on a patient's arms, legs, and around the chest to give paramedics a complete picture of what's going on. Paramedics also send that picture to doctors ahead of arrival so they can prepare for treatments in advance. These tools see surprisingly frequent use.

"Generally we hear a cardiac arrest go out every single day," Copas said. "Sometimes more than once, sometimes two or three or four times a day within the county."

Washington County EMS responded to about 1,800 heart related cases last year. In many cases, they were able to prevent a heart attack from happening.

If you would like more information on the Mission: Lifeline program, you can visit the AHA's website here.

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