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New online film shows London’s emergency heart care

Ilford ambulance crew during filmingReal-life stories of patients saved from cardiac arrests and heart attacks are featured in a new online film about the London Ambulance Service.

The film was premiered in the US at the EMS Today Conference in Washington, DC yesterday (7 March) to a crowd of emergency medical service professionals at one of the industry’s largest events.

Heart attack patient Paul Le Vesconte, cardiac arrest survivor Steve Hodder and Steve White – who suffered both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest – tell their own stories in the film, alongside cardiologists and London Ambulance Service paramedics who have worked to improve survival rates for people who suffer life-threatening cardiac conditions in London.

Paul Le Vesconte, from Beckenham, said: “The decision that the paramedics had made was absolutely the most important thing and they possibly could have saved my life.”

Consultant Paramedic Mark Whitbread said: “We’ve worked really hard over the last few years to improve the survival rate of Londoners suffering immediately life-threatening cardiac conditions, such as cardiac arrest and heart attack.

“We hope that by sharing our experience in London we can help other healthcare systems around the world give their patients the best chance of survival, because ultimately as an ambulance service everything you do has to be in the best interests of the patient.

“We also want people in London to understand how we’re tailoring the care we provide to give emergency cardiac patients the best chances of survival.

“For example, a third of people suffering a cardiac arrest outside of hospital in the capital now survive to be discharged from hospital, compared to around two per cent in the late 1990s.

“We are leading the way in training our staff to recognise heart attacks and take patients directly to specialist centres where a team of expert cardiologists offer the best level of care straight away.”

The filming was underwritten by Physio-Control, a provider of emergency medical response technologies, and a supplier to the London Ambulance Service since 1995.

Cardiologists from King’s College Hospital and London Chest Hospital, two of the capital’s eight heart attack centres, also feature in the film.

King’s College Hospital Cardiologist Dr Jonathan Hill, who is interviewed, said: “Speed is vital when responding to heart attacks, this is why it is crucial that patients are treated as quickly as possible.

“As London Ambulance Service is often the first on the scene, their role in saving lives is crucial. This video demonstrates how London Ambulance Service and King’s are working together to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

Background – Code STEMI

‘STEMI’ is a term used by emergency healthcare professionals indicating that a patient is experiencing a life-threatening type of heart attack, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.  STEMI stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction.

STEMI patients have the best chance of survival when identified as quickly as possible by ambulance crews and taken directly to a specialist hospital where expert cardiologists can treat them immediately.

The Code STEMI web series examines high-performing regional systems of care that have demonstrated success in improving heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest patient outcomes. The London Ambulance Service story will explore how one of the busiest ambulance services in the world is improving patient outcomes by focusing on the administrators, doctors, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, trainers, dispatchers and the patients themselves – to share their stories.

Learn more about Code STEMI at:

– Ends –

Notes to editors:

Heart attack care

  • Since 2006 the London Ambulance Service have taken patients diagnosed with a common type of heart attack directly to one of eight heart attack centres in the capital rather than to the local emergency department.
  • Cardiologists at the hospitals offer patients rapid, round-the-clock access to primary angioplasty – a pioneering procedure where the blockage in the artery causing the heart attack is reopened using a small balloon. This is successful in around 95 per cent of cases.
  • In 2011/12, over 1,300 Londoners suffering a heart attack were taken by ambulance straight to a heart attack centre for angioplasty.
  • In the same year, the fastest time from the time the 999 calls was made to cardiologists reopening the patient’s artery was just 42 minutes – well within the recommended 150-minute timeframe.

Cardiac arrest care

  • Every year London Ambulance Service staff are called to 10,000 cardiac arrests.
  • Over the last 10 years, London’s out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rate has increased from five per cent to 32 per cent.
  • This is mainly because the London Ambulance Service has worked hard over to improve the survival rate by reaching patients faster and delivering better care.
    More people attempting CPR and defibrillators in the community have also helped to improve the cardiac arrest survival rate. The more people who learn these simple skills, the more people who will survive.
  • To find out more about learning lifesaving skills please call 020 7783 2534 or email [email protected].