Call of the Month - June - 2012

A man and his wife visited Joburg for a family function, and were invited to stay at friends for the duration of their break. The man awoke at 2am with intense pain in his chest, a severe pressure as if an extremely heavy object was pressing down on him. He got out of bed and decided to walk around for a short while to see if the pain would subside. Instead, it continued to intensify and became increasingly worse. Panicked and struggling to breathe, he woke up his wife. She ran to wake up their hosts, who immediately called Hatzolah.

The first Hatzolah responder was at the scene in less than five minutes. The rest of the team, including one of Hatzolah's advanced life support doctors, arrived a minute later. They examined the patient, determined the cause might be of a cardiac nature, and did a 12-Lead ECG. This confirmed that the man was having a STEMI (severe heart attack). Using advanced technology known as Telemetary, responders were able to send the results of the ECG directly from the patient's bedroom to the cardiologist on call.

When the cardiologist checked his Blackberry, he had a vital piece of information he needed to make the correct decision about the patient in a matter of minutes. By the time the man was transported from the scene, the cardiologist was waiting for the patient at hospital, ready to begin treatment. He had already ordered the correct medication, to be delivered from the pharmacy to the ICU bed where the patient was brought directly. The severity of his condition meant that the man would certainly have died, had he not been treated quickly and accurately.

The internationally sought-after time to re-establish blood flow to the heart, after it has been blocked during a heart attack, is 90 minutes. Using this astounding new technology, the patient received the right treatment within only 40 minutes - well under the 90-minute window.

The possibilities of how technology can enhance the way we practice medicine are endless and we at Hatzolah are privileged to be at the forefront of these discoveries. Hatzolah is one of the only emergency medical services in the country that use telemetary. It's been only six months since we acquired it and this experience has shown us how, when the treatment process is expedited through technology, many more lives can be saved.