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Press Release

Contra Costa STEMI System Topping National Response Times

April 27, 2010

Working together as a multi-agency system to save the lives of high-risk heart attack victims, Contra Costa's hospitals and emergency medical service providers have exceeded all national benchmarks for response times. The system responded to 200 calls in its first year and is working to further improve its heart attack response.

The county's STEMI System, overseen by Contra Costa Health Services' Emergency Medical Services Division (EMS), enables paramedics to rapidly identify and transport high-risk heart attack victims to one of six specially equipped hospitals, known as STEMI Receiving Centers.

In the coming months, EMS plans further improvements to the county's STEMI System enabling paramedics to send diagnostic information to a STEMI Receiving Center electronically from the field.

"We are piloting a wireless system to send 12-lead EKG data from an ambulance to the Receiving Center's emergency room," Assistant EMS Director Patricia Frost said. "While paramedics focus on care for the patient, the EKG data is securely sent to a hospital so it can prepare to receive the patient."

In 2009, the county STEMI System averaged 87 minutes from the time 911 is called to the time lifesaving treatment is provided at a Receiving Center. EMS Medical Director Dr. Joseph Barger said not calling 911 could delay treatment for hours, leading to brain and heart damage.

"A STEMI heart attack is an especially dangerous heart attack," Dr. Barger said. "In these cases, treatment is most successful when given within 90 to 120 minutes of the first sign of chest pain."

Frost said all of the patients who came through the county's STEMI System in 2009 received care within the mandated 90 minutes of arriving at a Receiving Center. She noted that 88% of those patients received the lifesaving care in less than 75 minutes.

"Our county is fortunate to have such a strong and dedicated network of emergency medical providers," Frost said. "The tireless work of our partners has improved cardiac care in Contra Costa."

The six STEMI Receiving Centers in Contra Costa County are Doctors Medical Center San Pablo, John Muir Medical Center in Concord and Walnut Creek, Kaiser Permanente in Walnut Creek, San Ramon Regional Medical Center and Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch.

A complete 2009 STEMI System Performance Report is available online at

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Press Contact
  • Patricia Frost
  • 925-313-9554