Medic 2 proving its worth in Waynesboro, officials say

August 10, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Medic 2's new transport team that began service in the Waynesboro Hospital Emergency Department on May 10 has already proven its worth, hospital officials said Monday.

The team uses a specially-equipped ambulance and mostly transports heart attack victims to a lab in Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital where a new cardiac catherization procedure began being offered in February.

The vehicle also transports patients with serious head injuries, broken necks, burns and other life-threatening injuries to regional hospitals with facilities to treat them.


Since it began service in Waynesboro, the team has transported 38 people who had heart attacks to Chambersburg, said Jill Keller, manager of emergency services at Waynesboro Hospital.

The hospital contracts with Medic 2 for the service, she said.

The unit, a used ambulance, was equipped for its new role at a cost of $30,000, said Dave Biddinger, chief of operations of Medic 2.

Many heart attack victims walk into the emergency room complaining of chest pains, Keller said.

Whether they come in on their own or are brought by ambulance, emergency room personnel determine the patient's condition through the patient's personal history and an electrocardiogram (EKG), Keller said.

"If the EKG shows a heart attack has occurred, the patient is loaded immediately into the advanced life support vehicle for the ride to Chambersburg," she said.

Patients often are stabilized en route, Biddinger said.

Before the procedure began in Chambersburg, heart attack patients were taken to Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, Harrisburg (Pa.) Hospital, Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center or the closest hospital with the facilities, Keller said.

The procedure, called balloon angioplasty, uses equipment that is inserted into an obstructed artery to open it and uses devices called stents to ensure that it stays open, Keller said.

"The goal is to get the patient out of our door and to the balloon in 90 minutes," Keller said.

"If people think they are having a heart attack they should call 911 right away," said Sheran White, spokeswoman for Summit Health, which owns Chambersburg and Waynesboro hospitals. "There is only a small window of opportunity."

Dr. Alymer Tang is the only cardiologist at Chambersburg Hospital performing angioplasty and stenting procedures, Keller said. "He's always on call. He hasn't let us down yet," she said.

Since February, Tang has performed the stenting procedure on 489 patients, including the 38 from Waynesboro. Biddinger said 20 of the 38 had serious heart attacks. Some would not have survived without the new transportation service, he said.

White said a second cardiologist will join Tang's practice next month. Before May, Keller and her staff wasted precious time trying to round up certified staff to operate the ALS vehicle. "If no one was here we had to go down the list of people on call," Keller said.

She said 24 people work in Medic II, including seven who were hired when the advanced life support vehicle began service in May.

"This has been great for this community," Keller said.

The Herald-Mail Articles