Ambulances equipped with wireless tech to boost cardiac care

Reducing the time from the onset of chest pain to getting treatment is critical when a patient is suspected of having a heart attack. In Washington, D.C., ambulances have been equipped with technology that enables rapid, wireless transmissions of EKGs to both an on-call physician's wireless device and tertiary care hospitals to help deliver fast, accurate information in order to streamline in-transit patient care.

The initiative is the result of a new partnership between the George Washington University Heart and Vascular Institute, The Wireless Foundation, and the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. The Wireless Foundation, a non-profit organization established by the membership of CTIA, provided a grant to fund the initiative.

"Time is of the essence when patients experience a heart attack," Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at GWU and director of GW Hospital's cardiac catheterization laboratory, said in a statement. "This technology will allow the medical team to make decisions early, in many cases before the patient even arrives at the hospital, and should significantly improve the outcomes of patients experiencing a heart attack in the District of Columbia."

Wireless technology has been used before for similar applications. For instance, we told you in late 2009 about a Florida emergency medical service that transmits EKG readings from ambulances to hospital emergency departments. In that case, Brevard County Fire-Rescue equipped their ambulances with Bluetooth technology and mobile modems to send EKG results directly to cardiologists and trauma surgeons at hospitals in the county.

A similar program in Osceola County, Fla. has cut the time from door to cath lab in half.

To learn more:
- read the announcement