Letter to the editor: Congratulations to Bennington Rescue Squad

Congratulations to Bennington Rescue Squad

Our local health care system was recently singled out for a very prestigious national award by the American Heart Association. Bennington Rescue has implemented a high-level system for treating heart attacks, in a way that is improving the health and safety of all of us in Bennington County and the surrounding towns, including those in eastern New York and northwestern Massachusetts.

Until recently, anyone who called an ambulance and was having a heart attack needed to be taken to our (outstanding) emergency department for evaluation and initial treatment. For many heart attacks, especially a type called "ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI)", we can provide excellent care here in Bennington. However, the best possible therapy is immediate transfer to a large hospital with a cardiac catheterization lab. There's a saying in cardiology that "time is muscle," meaning that the sooner we can restore blood flow to the heart, the stronger the heart muscle will be.

At SVMC, we've been working closely with the Emergency Department and the local ambulance services to provide a more complete evaluation at your home, and in the ambulance, in a way that allows the ambulance to "bypass" our ER and take patients with a STEMI directly to one of the major hospitals (Dartmouth, Samaritan, St Peters, Albany Med) that each have a 24-hour heart lab. This saves time, and saving time saves muscle. Implementing this system has been expensive and has required advanced training of all ambulance crews in our region. Special thanks should also go to Dr. Daniel Perregaux, who has led the charge in his roles as emergency physician and medical director of the local EMS system here in southwestern Vermont.

The new system has led to quicker and better treatment of our patients with STEMI-type heart attacks. Early results are extremely promising - the average time across America to get a patient with STEMI to the best treatment is 110-120 minutes, and we're already achieving the same thing in about 90 minutes. We are getting folks to the best therapy much more quickly than we were able to under the old system, and people are doing well, and coming home with healthy hearts.

I wanted to congratulate Bennington Rescue, and everyone involved in this important initiative for their excellent work. As a community, we should be proud of what we've accomplished, and I'm very happy to see the recognition from the American Heart Association, confirming the high quality of our cardiac care in this community. I'm proud to be a part of what's happening here. This is just one of the many important improvements SVMC and our regional EMS district has been making in the care we can provide to our patients.


— Steven D. Anisman, MD, FACC, Cardiologist Bennington


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