‘A snapshot of the heart:’ Milwaukee County wins gold for excellence in heart attack response

SOUTH MILWAUKEE -- Speed and accuracy are necessary and sometimes life-saving in emergency medical situations. Now, Milwaukee County EMS crews are taking the lead when it comes to responding to heart attacks, offering life-saving results with the click of a button.

"This takes, what we call a snapshot of their heart," said Ryan Kurz, South Milwaukee firefighter and paramedic.

This year, Milwaukee County struck gold, winning the Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Award from the American Heart Association. It recognizes excellence around the nation in heart attack response.

Dan Pojar

"To receive this award, we want to have this patient, from first medical contact when the fire department arrives, to the catheterization lab in that hospital within 90 minutes," said Dan Pojar, Clinical Education and QA Manager with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

At the South Milwaukee Fire Department, paramedics showed FOX6 News the key player -- a "STEMI" machine that gives paramedics a 360-degree look at the heart.

"Going around the heart -- looking at the top, bottom, back side, front side," said Pojar.

If something's wrong, paramedics would spot it on a printout.

"So if we would see certain parts of this elevated on these three leads, we would know what side of the heart is being affected," said Kurz.

The results would be sent directly to the hospital.

"Us paramedics, we're the eyes in the field for the position, so we're either talking to them on the phone or through the radio," said Pojar.

On average, every year, 36,000 EKGs are done using the device in Milwaukee County -- detecting 40 to 50 heart attacks each month.

"We would rather show up and have you not need us than us showing up and we're already being the eight ball and trying to catch up," said Pojar.

Related resources: American Heart Association: Heart Attack 101