A worthwhile expense

Published 6:42 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016

Quietly saving lives each and every day.

That’s what the paramedics and EMTs and other medical personnel with Suffolk Fire and Rescue are doing. And they’re doing the job better than ever, thanks to the introduction of some new and important medical equipment into their ambulances.

In particular, the department has added new cardiac monitors and automatic chest compressors to its lifesaving toolkit. The additions are great news, since heart attacks are still the No. 1 cause of death for men and women in this nation. Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 610,000 people die each year of heart disease, accounting for one in every four deaths.

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Quick intervention with effective medical procedures can mean the difference between life and death in these emergency situations.

The new equipment does not come cheap. The new monitors cost $32,000 each, and the new compressors can cost as much as $15,000.

But the benefits far outweigh the costs.

The cardiac monitor recognizes cardiac blockages and provides a diagnosis on scene. Then, it sends the data to hospital cardiology units almost immediately. That coordination between emergency crews and hospital staff has a direct correlation with reduced mortality rates, medical professionals say.

The chest compressor performs 100 or more compressions a minute, automatically, giving emergency service providers a break from the physically demanding task and allowing them to be belted into the back of the ambulance during the trip to the hospital.

The devices were funded by City Council and grants from the Department of Emergency Medical Services, the Obici Healthcare Foundation and Sentara Obici Hospital.

Suffolk residents should be thankful for the help with this expense. Lives will surely be saved because of it.