Letter: Change in protocols increases fly-outs
First, we want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the citizens of Mathews County for outstanding support of Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad’s recent fund drive. We sincerely appreciate the contributions that help us constantly update our capabilities.
Second, since Mathews citizens may have seen or heard a lot more helicopters in the past several months, your rescue squad wanted to make you aware of several changes in emergency medical procedures (protocols) that have caused this increase in medical fly-outs.
One major change is when a specific EKG reading shows a possible heart attack, it is now necessary to have a patient in a facility that has specialized cardiac capabilities within 90 minutes of the onset of the chest pain. The closest specialized facility to Mathews County is located in Newport News, so this is a significant challenge.
Another new protocol involves patients who experience the symptoms associated with a stroke. A patient with these stroke symptoms should be in a treatment laboratory in less than three hours after the onset of these symptoms. It is important to understand that these are very specific situations and only a few patients meet the strict criteria for these new procedures.
Other cardiac and stroke events (outside of that three-hour window), although serious, will be handled in most cases by ambulance to Riverside Walter Reed Hospital (our closest facility). MVRS had prepared for these changes by investing in new, state-of-the-art heart monitoring equipment for each ambulance and by ensuring every EMT in the squad was trained to recognize the symptoms and quickly implement the new protocols.
Our preparation has paid off with three cases within the first five weeks of the new procedures. In one call, a cardiac patient was receiving treatment in a Newport News hospital in only 55 minutes after contact with MVRS, a truly amazing timeframe, considering our rural location and distance from definitive treatment facilities. Mathews County residents and visitors can be assured that we are constantly making updates, practicing our skills and striving for even faster responses to any medical emergencies in Mathews County.
Ron Lambert, chairman
Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad Mathews, Va.