Shawano Heart Attack Patients Get Faster Care

December 12, 2011

Shawano Ambulance Trained to Assess in Field, Send Directly to Cath Lab

People in the Shawano area suffering a heart attack can bypass the emergency room and head straight to cardiac care.

Shawano Ambulance Service recently became a ThedaCare Field STEMI Partner. Code STEMI is ThedaCare’s fast-acting protocol that speeds heart attack patients into life-saving surgery. Shawano is the fifth area ambulance service to join the program, which allows paramedics to bypass the emergency department and take patients straight to Appleton Medical Center’s cardiac catheterization lab.

“Field STEMI positively impacts patients by getting them to lifesaving care more quickly. We can check them in the field and if it’s a certain kind of heart attack, we can send them right to the cath lab,” said Pat Trinko, director of operations for Shawano Ambulance Service, which covers the central third of Shawano County. “We’re excited to get involved since it improves patient care.”

STEMI, a type of heart attack, stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. A STEMI patient requires quick intervention such as cardiac catheterization and balloon angioplasty to open the blocked vessel and get blood flowing fully to the heart again. STEMI can be diagnosed with an EKG.

Julie Thompson, a registered nurse who coordinates ThedaCare’s Code STEMI, said Field STEMI paramedics start the STEMI process before arriving at the hospital, saving valuable time. Previously, the STEMI protocol began once a heart attack patient arrived at the emergency room.

“The Field STEMI program allows paramedics to assess a potential heart attack in the field and contact the cath lab to notify them a patient is coming. We are able to take the ER out of the picture, which saves time,” she said. “With heart attacks, time is heart muscle so anything we can do to speed up the process benefits the patient.”

Shawano Ambulance Service is the fifth service to come on board as a partner joining Valders EMS, Gold Cross Ambulance Service, Kaukauna Fire Department and Waushara County EMS.

Shawano’s paramedics, who are trained to use and interpret an electrocardiograph in the field, will determine if someone is having a STEMI heart attack, and then use ThedaCare’s one-phone call system to start the STEMI process.

When the patient arrives at AMC, cath lab staff, along with an interventional cardiologist, will be waiting for the patient. Previously, emergency department physicians would examine the patient and EKG results before initiating the Code STEMI process.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

For more information, media may contact Megan Wilcox (, APR, corporate and public relations specialist for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5847. For after hours or on weekends, please call (920) 729-3100 (Theda Clark Medical Center switchboard).