EMS Frequently Asked Questions

Updated:Aug 24,2010

How will the great variation in emergency medical services (EMS) and resources across the country be addressed?
It has been clear from the start of this initiative that there is not a "one-size-fits-all" solution. This is the main reason that the AHA is dedicating resources to create state and regional STEMI stakeholder task forces to determine the appropriate actions for each region.

What percentage of EMS systems nationwide have 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) capabilities?
This information is not completely available and it is one of the reasons for the Mission: Lifeline focus on EMS Systems Assessment and Improvement.

How does an EMS professional determine whether to take a heart attack patient to the nearest hospital or to a PCI-capable hospital?
Mission: Lifeline supports standardized point-of-entry (POE) protocols. Developed by state-based coalitions of EMS personnel, emergency physicians and cardiologists and supported by payers and administrators, these protocols dictate when patients should be transported to the nearest hospital or to the nearest STEMI-receiving (PCI-capable) hospital. The determination is based in part on the acquisition, interpretation and transmission of the pre-hospital 12-lead ECG administered by EMS.

How can EMS organizations gauge their effectiveness in handling STEMI patients once they are transported to the hospital?
As it is now in many healthcare systems across the country, EMS providers often never know what happens to a patient once transport to the hospital is complete. As part of the Mission: Lifeline initiative, the various parties in a STEMI system of care will do a better job communicating with one another on patient outcomes.

As part of an EMS organization, what can you do to help the Mission: Lifeline initiative?
The American Heart Association values your input and wants to know more about the needs your organization faces so we can develop an effective plan for STEMI systems of care. You can help greatly by contacting your local AHA office and taking a few moments to complete the EMS Assessment.