St. Clair Shores Fire Department awarded ‘Gold Plus’ award for cardiac care

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 29, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — “Any single person, here in this room, you could be sitting at home, you could have some chest discomfort ... start sweating ... you could be worried. ‘Am I having a heart attack?’”

Dr. Robert Dunne, the EMS medical director at Ascension St. John, said a citizen who then called 911 with those symptoms would trigger a series of actions that begins with the St. Clair Shores Fire Department paramedics and transitions to doctors and staff at the hospital.

“The team from the fire department gets there. They do a quick assessment of you. They do an EKG and the EKG says, yeah, you’re having a heart attack,” Dunne said, explaining that the paramedics then send that information to the hospital at the same time. “By the time that that ambulance has gotten you to the hospital ... we already know what’s going on, and that gets you to that definitive care ... getting that blockage opened up, getting that relief.

“That all happens because there’s a system of care in place, and that starts by having a great response system.”

That standard of emergency medical care is why the St. Clair Shores Fire Department was awarded the 2021 Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Award from Ascension St. John and the American Heart Association Oct. 18.

Evan Pile, with Ascension St. John, said the award is tied to the department reaching different data points — the goal is to go from first medical contact to EKG, or electrocardiogram, in under 10 minutes for the patients to have the best chance at a positive outcome.

“They can notify us so we can activate the cath lab,” Pile said. The sooner that happens, he explained, “the better the outcome could be.”

Dunne said the award recognizes the consistency of St. Clair Shores Fire Department’s response.

“You want to see people doing a good job every time,” he said. “The crew, when they get there, at the top of their mind is looking for those life-threatening emergencies.”

The 2021 Mission Lifeline Gold Plus Award recognizes the fact that the department provides such a high level of service year in and year out, Dunne said. The department has received the award at an increasingly higher level over the past several years.

“To us, this is a big deal,” said Kevin Kraus, EMS coordinator for St. Clair Shores Fire Department. He said that it doesn’t matter the circumstances — if there is a global pandemic ongoing or not — St. Clair Shores paramedics are “still pushing through” and continuing to provide an elevated level of care to the citizens.

Fire Chief James Piper said the city’s EMS crews do a “phenomenal job,” and he was proud of how they stacked up to national benchmarks.

“The patients are able to get that critical care, (and) that directly relates to better patient outcomes,” he said.