Time saves lives when treating heart attack or stroke, so Northside Hospital Cherokee, as well as emergency medical technicians at Cherokee Fire and Emergency Services, regularly train together to get the fastest times possible and rehearse best practices.
Friday, the hospital shared how those drills are done with the Tribune as well as the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce's current class of Leadership Cherokee.
Two drills were done for both a heart attack and stroke scenario, which saw the process from the patient arriving by ambulance to doctors and nurses finishing a procedure in the operating room.
"We can practice with our staff at any point, but to have the partnership and relationship with EMS so that we can connect with them and bring them through, it allows us to stay a well oiled machine," said Katie Pearson, the hospital's director of operations.
"We have some of the best scores in getting our patients to the cath lab, for example, and that is because we have gone through various scenarios and constantly test ourselves, challenge ourselves, with new scenarios, new situations, based on what's going on in the community, in the world, so we are always prepared."
For the heart attack drill, an electrocardiograph test was taken in about two minutes, though in a typical situation EMTs are able to do it on the ambulance and send results to the hospital staff before they arrive.
Paramedics and emergency room nurses rushed the "patient," Sgt. Paramedic Waylon White of Cherokee Fire, to the cath lab, where Dr. Gordon Azar, with nurses from the cath lab, used a sheath on a simulator to project images of each of the patient's coronary arteries. In a real patient, the team would use the wire in the arteries to more closely examine them after getting some information from the ECG.
The hospital reports an average door-to-balloon time of 60 minutes, with a best of 20 minutes.
When one of the arteries was barely showing up on the screen, the team knew that one had a blockage. They used a balloon to open up the clogged artery, and install a stent to keep it open and allow blood flow.