New Stretcher Allows Quicker Lifestar Trip from Meriden to Hartford

November 15, 2013 By Eric Vo

New Stretcher Allows Quicker Lifestar Trip from Meriden to Hartford

A new stretcher that is compatible with Life Star will allow MidState Medical Center to cut between four to eight minutes in the amount of time it takes to transfer STEMI patients from the local hospital to Hartford Hospital, ultimately increasing their chances of survival.

Patients that have a ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, require quick treatment because a specific blockage prevents blood from circulating in one of the heart's main arteries. With the blockage, the heart can't receive the appropriate oxygen supply from the blood, causing irreparable damage to the heart. MidState receives between four to six of these patients a month, according to Lynn Amarante, assistant vice president of emergency services at MidState.

The new stretchers, which cost $14,500 a piece, will allow MidState staff to prepare the patient to be transferred to Hartford by Life Star without having to waste time switching stretchers. A routine stretcher at MidState won't fit in the helicopter, according to George Spivack, of the Cardiology Association of Central Connecticut. Spivack added that transferring a patient from one stretcher to another isn't as simple as picking them up and moving them because of equipment such as IVs.

After a patient is diagnosed with an ST-elevation myocardial infarction, the call to Life Star is made "very quickly," according to Robert Golub, a cardiologist. Golub compared the quicker process to how the military operates. Because hospital staff doesn't have to worry about moving the patient from one stretcher to another, Life Star can conduct a "hot landing," where the engines and rotors aren't turned off, according to Donald Lombino, medical director in the Emergency Department at MidState.

"It's like the military where a helicopter lands and it doesn't turn off. It lands and then moves," he said.

In the military, it's called the "golden hour," Golub described, where pilots have a one hour window to pick up wounded soldiers and transfer them to receive treatment. With a quicker process to transfer patients from Meriden to Hartford, Golub says staff operates on the "golden 90-minutes."

If a patient is transferred to Hartford and a balloon is inserted to open the blocked artery within 90-minutes, it decreases the chance their heart will become damaged, Golub said.

Spivak said MidState's ultimate goal is to get STEMI patients in and out the hospital's door on the way to Hartford within 30 minutes or less. That time frame gives the patient a greater chance of survival, he added.

MidState presently has four stretchers, and there are plans to acquire more in the future, according to Amarante.

Photo: (Eric Vo / Record-Journal) Hartford Hospital and Midstate Medical Center staff members stand in front of Life Star and Midstate's new stretcher. The new stretcher is fully compatible with Life Star and would allow patients with ST-elevated myocardial infarctions to be transferred to Hartford Hospital quicker.

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