Wireless Technology Helps Paramedics Save Lives

Dallas County paramedics using LifeNet to transmit EKGs in minutes

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Friday, Feb 17, 2012  |  Updated 6:47 PM CDT
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Paramedics are using LifeNet to transmit important tests done in the field to the hospital wirelessly so that doctors at the emergency room are prepared for the patient's arrival.

Tammy Mutasa, Rowlett Reporter

Paramedics are using LifeNet to transmit important tests done in the field to the hospital wirelessly so that doctors at the emergency room are prepared for the patient's arrival.

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Dallas County hospitals are using wireless technology to save lives.

Paramedics can send a patient's electrocardiogram to a hospital with the help of wireless Internet system LifeNet.

Joy Dickey's EKG was sent to Baylor Garland Hospital in less than a minute while paramedics were still at her Rowlett home.

"Instead of, like the old days -- when we arrived, we handed an EKG -- we now have the ability to transmit that before we get there,” said Chris Weinzapfel, of Rowlett Emergency Services.

Dickey, 53, had a heart attack about two weeks ago and is recovering after having a cardiac sent placed Thursday.

"You wonder if you're going to live or die,” she said. "I didn't know I was having a heart attack, but I knew something was wrong, and I couldn't breath. It was just a terrifying pain."

Doctors were already prepared when Dickey arrived. They could also get her EKG on their smartphones.

"The technology has been around for a long, long time,” said Hedgy McDonald, of Baylor Medical Center at Garland. “It’s the advancements today that make the technology even faster that what it used to be in the day."

When paramedics took Dickey to the emergency room, it took 31 minutes to get her to the catheterization laboratory. The process hospitals call “door-to-balloon” time usually takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.

"Time is muscle, and when we start talking about time, every second counts,” Weinzapfel said.

Paramedics said LifeNet has been around for about two years. Currently, 17 hospitals in Dallas County use the wireless system.

"I think it saved my life," Dickey said. "I think them having that ability to get it to the hospital, so the hospital could be ready, was vital."

It cost Baylor Garland about $3,000 to get the LifeNet wireless for Rowlett’s paramedics.

Paramedics say it is always better to call 911 than drive yourself to the hospital if you suspect you are having a heart attack.

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