Franklin County Emergency Medical Services makes patient care a priority.

The EMS staff takes that mantra seriously and those accomplishments are being recognized by outside sources. The American Heart Association Wednesday presented the Mission Life Line Gold-Plus Award to Franklin County EMS, which was one of two EMS operations to receive the award in Kansas.

“That is a monster [award] for [us] to have,” Nick Robbins, county EMS director, said. “It shows we are doing the right things and being a leader in the industry.”

Robbins said the American Heart Association compares EMS departments across the nation and only 170 were Gold-Plus achievers.

“That is a pretty big accomplishment,” Robbins said. “A lot of those are the larger metro areas that have a stroke center and [catheterization] lab on every street corner. Our closest cath lab is 32 miles [in Olathe]. We are competing against larger services. Franklin County is getting the same kind of healthcare as the bigger cities.”

The award measures statistics in how fast heart attack and stroke patients receive proper care from the time EMS personnel arrive on the scene to the time they arrive at a medical center.

“We can say 100 percent of our patients last year were in a cath lab in less than 100 minutes,” Robbins said. “We have streamlined our process so good. That is exceptional for saving a heart.”

A ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) is a serious heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked. Robbins said to receive the Gold-Plus award an EMS organization must hit high marks in both STEMI and stroke care. Two years ago, the EMS received the Bronze award and last year Silver. One of the requirements for Gold-Plus is to have achieved a silver or gold award the previous year.

“As we built this team, not only are we meeting the mark, but we are exceeding,” he said.

Matt Heyn, chief executive officer of Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, said it is not surprising the county EMS is receiving recognition for what they do for patients.

“Our EMS department in our community is the strongest I have had the opportunity to work with,” he said. “It is no surprise to me they are receiving the awards. The staff is always amazing. They put patient care at the top of the list. We have success story after success story because of the support we have through our EMS program.”

WORKING TOGETHER

Robbins said working with Ransom Memorial Hospital, Olathe Medical Center and University of Kansas Medical Center has done wonders for patient care.

“It has shown with the success rate we are having,” Robbins said. “EMS and [RMH], our collaborative effort started with heart attacks. We are doing heart attacks better than most. We are taking care of them the best a rural service is going to do. We followed suit with our stroke care. Our stroke care, collaborating with KU, [has grown]. Ransom is a stroke center that sets the bar high for a lot of hospitals. We partner with them very close.”

Robbins said the county EMS is part of the Olathe hospital’s STEMI team.

“We look at how we can do better,” he said. “Mission Life Line came about and the big American Heart Association push was to build a chain of survival. It starts with recognition when it comes to critical times diagnoses of heart attacks and strokes. How do we transport a picture of that heart to the doctor? And where do we go? That is where our system falls in now. We have the capabilities in our [ambulances] to transmit that picture to any smart phone and it goes to the fax machine in the ER. That cardiologist is looking at that heart before we get there.”

Robbins said the Life Line guidelines were put in place to increase collaboration between EMS departments and medical facilities.

“Mission Life Line was founded to enhance heart care when it started,” Robbins said. “When I first started in 2006, the push was can we recognize this kind of heart attack in the field. We can transport that heart attack [victim] to a PCI [Percutaneous Coronary Intervention] center, which is a cath lab.”

DEDICATION TO EDUCATION

Robbins said the county EMS crew works together to refine their performance.

“There is a lot of dedication to education and dedication to doing the right thing,” he said. “Heart attacks and strokes is a passion of mine. I always thought we could do better in the field. Heart attack and stroke, we can see a change. If we have somebody having a heart attack and give them meds, we can see positive results. My crews get to see what they do makes a difference. The crews have a lot of input and buy in in what we do.”

Robbins said the best award of all is seeing the patient outcomes become stronger.

“The bottom line is if we forget we are here to take care of people, then we have failed,” he said. “We take care of the person from the very beginning until their bills get paid. We look at a whole 360 view of healthcare. We try to do everything we can to make sure family and the patient gets the best [care]. That is what you are seeing in our community right now.”