Lawrence Memorial Hospital already ranks among national leaders when it comes to quickly treating patients suffering from heart attacks.
Now such treatment could get even better, aided by new equipment on order for first responders.
Wednesday evening, Douglas County commissioners agreed to spend $272,143 for 11 new heart monitors and 11 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for use by Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.
The equipment will replace effective but aging equipment used by emergency personnel, for use responding to complaints of heart attacks and reports of symptoms indicating cardiac problems.
Unlike the current models, the new units will allow all medical personnel to transmit detailed data directly to the hospital’s emergency room — or even an on-call cardiologist, who then could review the information and order a patient to bypass the ER and be admitted directly to the hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab.
While such decisions already can be made with current communications between personnel, sending the actual data will provide even better service when seconds count, said Mark Bradford, chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.
“Time is heart muscle,” Bradford said. “When you’re not feeding the heart oxygenated blood, the muscle dies. We want to shorten those times.”
Jim Flory, commission chairman, noted that while the new equipment would improve services throughout the county, patients in rural areas likely would see even more benefit — again a matter of time, because travel distances to the hospital typically span longer distances.
“These are significant, life-saving devices,” Flory said.
Commissioners unanimously approved the purchases, and the equipment will be expected to be in service by the end of the year.
“Overall, the improvement in the quality of care for this community will be very high,” said Kye Evans, an emergency-room physician at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
In other action Wednesday, commissioners:
• Agreed to wait until next week to consider approving an agreement with the state to help keep the Lawrence office of Social and Rehabilitation Services open.
• Approved an agreement to assume Eudora Township’s financial responsibilities for the Hesper Charter Road Improvement District.