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Maui's ambulances get wireless EKG systems


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POSTED: Thursday, March 12, 2009

WAILUKU » Maui County's emergency medical ambulances will be equipped with a wireless computer system that could cut in half the time it takes to diagnose and treat a person for a heart problem.

The wireless EKG system began operation on all 12 ambulances last week.

The Queen's Medical Center on Oahu was the first hospital in the state to acquire the technology, last May.

The technology allows physicians to read whether a patient is having a heart attack, including the blocking of blood flow from the narrowing of an artery.

The system enables a physician to interpret the patient's condition and apply clot-buster medication sooner.

It also enables a physician to assemble a surgical team before the patient's arrival at the hospital.

“;This tremendously shortens the time,”; said David Russell, director of cardiovascular services.

Russell said the technology will help many patients because most heart attacks are caused by the blockage of blood flow through the narrowing of an artery. He said the system could reduce by 50 percent the time needed to diagnose and treat a patient.

Maui County paramedic Pat Gragas said the technology allows physicians to see 12 different views of the heart and make a diagnosis while the patient is en route to the hospital.

“;It's hard data. ... It's just another assurance of what's actually happening. It provides documentation,”; Gragas said.

“;It'll just help to make things happen a lot quicker.”;

The system cost nearly $40,000 and was purchased by the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, with help from the Florence Foundation.