Missoula Emergency Service has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Bronze Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Missoula Emergency Services Manager Don Whalen said Missoula EMS was recognized for their efforts in improving STEMI systems, or ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction, as well as improving the quality of life for heart attack patients in town.

"Basically for transmitting 12-leads, which is taking a cardiac monitor into the patient's home and doing a diagnostic 12-lead that is also done in the hospital, and transmitting it directly from the patient side to the emergency department where the ER physician order the CALF lab," Whalen said.

Whalen said the 12-lead ECG machines shave precious minutes of life-saving treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals…something that is extremely critical from patients suffering from severe heart attacks and blockage of blood flow to the heart.

"We've been transmitting 12-leads since June of 2009. We know the importance of actually getting a diagnostic 12-lead to your cardiologist as quickly as possible," Whalen said. "We tried doing it in the early 2000s, about 2002-2003, with a fax that took so long to actually get it to the hospital. So what's new is there's a modem that's actually right on the monitor that is high speed internet basically that sends it to them in just about 10 seconds, so we've known the need has been out there."

For more information about the Lifeline program, click here.