Shore Regional Health Grant to Caroline County EMS Funds Ambulance Wi-Fi Technology

Gary Jones, Jeffrey Etherton, MD and Ken Kozel look on as Sean Humphreys demonstrates the new EMS ambulance wi-fi technology to Caroline County Commissioners.

Through a partnership between UM Shore Regional Health and Caroline County Emergency Medical Services, new wi-fi technology in EMS ambulances promises to save lives and improve the recovery of individuals suffering STEMI heart attacks in Caroline County. The technology was demonstrated at the January 22, 2019 meeting of the Caroline County Commissioners.

STEMI heart attacks are those caused by a blocked artery or arteries. As explained to the Commissioners by Bryan Ebling, director, Caroline County Department of Emergency Services and Ryan Foster, manager of the Emergency Department at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the new, 12-lead technology enables EMS personnel to transmit vital information regarding a patient’s health status and heart function from the ambulance to the care teams in UM Shore Medical Center at Easton’s Emergency Department and Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC). Receiving the data while the ambulance is in transit to the hospital enables the Emergency and CIC staff to be ready to treat the patient’s particular needs upon arrival. Grant funding from UM SRH made the purchase of six wi-fi modems possible at a total cost of $10,430.

“We did not have the funds for this purchase in the budget, and we are so grateful that Shore Regional Health stepped forward to help us implement this program more quickly,” said Ebling. “Going forward, this incredible equipment will enable us to save the lives of many more Caroline County citizens.”

Also present at the Commissioners meeting were several members of the Caroline County EMS team, Ken Kozel, UM SRH president and CEO, cardiologist Jeffrey Etherton, MD, and Gary Jones, director, Cardiovascular Services UM SRH. Jones and Dr. Etherton, who joined the Shore Regional Health cardiology team in 2016, were key leaders in Shore Medical Center at Easton Cardiac Cath Lab’s successful designation as a Cardiac Intervention Center by Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) in February, 2018.

“The CIC designation was the vision of Gary Jones, Mr. Kozel and many physicians, and it took years to realize, but I think that technology-wise and team-wise, this is the best cardiac cath lab in the state of Maryland,” stated Dr. Etherton. “I am grateful to be part of this team that together, has more than 100 years of experience in cardiac care.”

Dr. Etherton also credited the work of EMS teams in the region. “I’m the guy at the end of the line – the paramedics do an incredible job of keeping people alive while en route to the hospital,” he said. Patients suffering a STEMI heart attack will begin to sustain permanent and perhaps fatal heart damage if they do not receive treatment in less than 90 minutes, and less than 60 minutes is optimal. The national average for transport time to a CIC is 68 minutes, but the Caroline County EMS team’s average is just 51 minutes.

Ebling credited EMS staff members Dr. Jon Krohmer, medical director, Sean Humphreys and Andy Garey for their work in getting the new wi-fi system up and running, and recognized  Jeremy Fox and Amber Rippetoe, crew members who were assigned to the Denton Paramedic unit on the evening of the presentation and were on hand at the Commission meeting.

Jones explained to the Commissioners that since March 31, 2017, 350 angioplasty procedures had been performed in the Cardiac Cath Lab. Since the CIC designation, the Cardiac Cath Lab’s emergency call team had been activated 170 times and in 70 of those cases, emergency angioplasty was needed — 20 more than the anticipated volume of 50.