The Okanagan will be the first in the province to have portable electrocardiogram (ECG) machines onboard ambulances as part of a pilot project between Interior Health and BC Emergency Health Services.
Eight ECGs will be purchased thanks to philanthropic individuals, families and organizations from Lake Country, Predator Ridge, Vernon and Armstrong, the Vernon Jubilee Hospital (VJH) Foundation said.
Currently, patients with chest pain are brought to hospital where an ECG is performed. If the pain is diagnosed as a serious form of heart attack (STEMI), the patient is transferred to the Cardiac Cath Lab in Kelowna. In the case of a STEMI, the risk of permanent damage is grave and time is of the essence.
Now, with the machines onboard, diagnoses can happen more quickly giving patients immediate access to state-of-the-art care. If a STEMI is identified, patients will skip VJH and be transported directly to the Cardiac Cath Lab at Kelowna General Hospital.
“It is very exciting for us — our seven internists, the entire ICU and our emergency teams — to make this service available to our patients. When I’m on call, I see, on average, one to two STEMI patients per week. This is a fantastic initiative and a great example of innovative collaboration,” VJH’s department head of medicine Dr. Danie Roux said.
Additionally, the new machines provide advanced vital sign monitors and defibrillators, the foundation said. Paramedics conducting ECG tests in the field will also have the capabilities to acquire advanced vital signs and perform non-invasive blood-pressure monitoring. All test results are immediately transported to hospital for further analysis.
Online training for paramedics has already been completed through BCEHS and one-on-one training will begin next month.