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Some Central NY ambulances to receive EKG modems

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Time is critical when it comes to treating a suspected heart attack. That's why local EMTs and emergency room doctors are happy about new cardiac technology getting into more ambulances.

Thirty-seven ambulances in five central New York counties, will be getting what are called 12-lead electrocardiogram modems, that essentially allow doctors to get vital diagnostic information while a patient is still en route to the hospital.

"This is going to virtually put the emergency room doctor or the cardiologist in the back of the ambulance with the EMS provider," said Oswego County Emergency Services coordinator Jim Jones. He says it will really help emergency cases in his neck of the woods, because of long transport times to the Syracuse Hospitals.

Ultimately, this equipment allows physicians to bypass time consuming diagnostics in the emergency room and take a patient straight to a catheterization lab says ER physician Dan Olsen.

"They can literally be waiting at the door for the patient to arrive and it can save anywhere from ten to 60 minutes in total care time," said Olsen.

And that time is critical when it comes to heart attacks. "In a case where the entire part of the muscle of the heart dies, your recovery time, if you survive, is very long, here is we can limit the amount of damage to the heart muscle, recovery time is shortened to perhaps a couple of days," said Olsen.

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield is pledging a $30,000 grant to purchase and distribute the equipment.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.