Donors fund portable ECGs for all ambulances in North Okanagan - a BC first

ECGs for all ambulances

Local donors from Lake Country to Armstrong have provided funding for eight portable electrocardiogram machines for North Okanagan ambulances.

For critical heart attacks, the quickest response is the best.

The funds are part of a pilot project between Interior Health and BC Emergency Health Services that will equip every ambulance in proximity to a heart cath lab with one of the life-saving devices.

The ECGs will give patients immediate access to state-of-the-art care and were funded by donors and organizations from Lake Country, Predator Ridge, Vernon and Armstrong, the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation reports.

As a result, the Okanagan will be the first area in British Columbia where an ECG machine will be readily available to measure electrical activity in the heart for patients experiencing chest pain under the care of a paramedic.

“When patients are experiencing a heart attack, restoring blood flow is paramount as heart muscle tissue does not regenerate when it dies. Within the first hour of onset of symptoms, you lose about 50 per cent of the available heart muscle tissue being supplied by the affected artery. Within three hours, you’ll lose two thirds of it. It drives home how important it is to have a diagnosis as soon as possible, in order to have a healthy heart after a heart attack,” says Trevor Campbell, advanced care paramedic practice educator with BCEHS.

Currently, patients in the North Okanagan are brought to Vernon Jubilee for the ECGs and transferred to the cardiac cath lab in Kelowna if the situation is serious.

With ECG machines in every ambulance, paramedics will be able to transmit ECG results directly to the hospital, saving precious time.

The new machines also provide advanced vital sign monitors and defibrillators.

Online training for the paramedics has now been completed, and one-on-one training will commence in March.

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