When someone is having a heart attack, members of the Harker Heights Fire Department know that time is muscle.

The department is one of 27 agencies in the state to receive the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Award for implementing improvement measures for treating patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

Heights received the bronze designation because it demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure in a quarter and treated at least four STEMI patients for the year.

“From the moment we see the patient to the moment the artery is opened in a cath lab needs to be done within 90 minutes, because every minute that goes by, a muscle dies and we strive to reduce as much damage to the heart as possible,” said Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Gallenstein. “We have a system in place where we call Seton Medical Center Harker Heights so they can assemble their team so when we arrive with the patient, the transition is smooth and no time is wasted.”

According to the AHA website, every year, nearly 300,000 people annually experience a STEMI, which is caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.

To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, which is why when the call comes in, Heights’ crews know time is of the essence.

Gallenstein said their most recent call came March 27 and response time was 51 minutes. The patient was released from the hospital two days later.

“Early intervention is so important,” he said. “Our crews are doing an outstanding job and they are all on board because they know one misstep can have grave consequences.”

Contact Vanessa Lynch at vlynch@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7567.

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