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Donation To Help Heart Attack Response

April 19, 2010, 6:18 PM by Courtney Zieller

Donation To Help Heart Attack Response
More than one million people will suffer a heart attack in the U.S. this year. And about 400,000 of them will have a type that blocks blood flow to a portion of the heart. Now a multi-million dollar donation will help communities big and small respond with the right equipment.

Joe Dolezal has served Mitchell as a paramedic for 13 years and in that time has seen his share of heart attack patients.

"The longer it lasts, the worse it is for a patient. Time is muscle," Dolezal said.

And he's familiar with the obstacles smaller hospitals can face.

"We're an hour away from definitve care. Our hospital in Mitchell can stabilize but they really need to get to a cath lab and get care from a cardiologist," Dolezal said.

But a gift is changing all that. The American Heart Association received a multi-million dollar grant that, in turn, will be used to support a new initiative called MISSION: Lifeline.

The money will help buy machines that help paramedics determine whether the blockage is stopping blood flow to the heart.
It's the most deadly form of attack and knowing that information can help first responders and hospitals save lives through the appropriate care.

It's not just small communities in South Dakota that will benefit -- the $8.4 million will help other areas throughout the state.

"This is a statewide project that will impact every inch of South Dakota, every hospital, every ambulance service, it's very dynamic," American Heart Association Darrin Smith said.

And with this kind of grant money, South Dakota will now have the best care for heart attack patients, raising the bar for other states.

"South Dakota is positioned to be a leader. We really will have the most advanced heart attack system of care in the nation. When we're done with this project in 3 years, then we're going to go to North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and other states in the Midwest and in the country," Smith said.

The three-year grant will be also be used for hospital training and for a public education campaign. And for people living in towns such as Mitchell, it can be the matter between life and death.

"It's going to help us provide better care for our patients and our community," Dolezal said. 

The gift is from the Leona M. and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust, which earlier this year provided $5.6 million to buy training simulators for emergency medical workers in South Dakota.

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