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Dallas County Saving Heart Attack Patients With New Plugged-In Program


Dallas County emergency medical responders and hospitals have changed the way they handle heart attack patients and it’s saving lives.

New data has led to numerous improvements including a 50 percent drop (over two years) for the most serious type of heart attack - the sudden blockage of an artery.

Dr. Ray Fowler, UT Southwestern Medical Center, presented the data to hundreds of EMS doctors and technicians at an annual conference in Dallas on Friday.

“We created a single EMS chest pain protocol for the entire county, all systems.  This was the first time that had ever happened,” Fowler told the standing-room-only crowd. 

So far 4,000 paramedics have received updated training and 24 Dallas County EMS agencies are following the new procedures that include:

  • Online ability for paramedics to send sophisticated  EKG results to the receiving hospital.
  • Advanced preparation at the hospital, which reduces the time it takes to get treatment by 30 critical minutes.

The data also revealed that in Dallas County, 50 percent of people with heart attack symptoms drive themselves to the hospital.      
What’s next?  Dr. Fowler says he would like to find funds for a public education campaign on the importance of dialing 911 at the onset of heart attack symptoms. He says the earlier the intervention, the better the results.          

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.