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Plattsmouth EMS - improving cardiac arrest care

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PLATTSMOUTH – Plattsmouth’s Emergency Medical Services department is continuing its efforts to provide the best possible care for the people it serves.

“Our goal is to be the best EMS department in Nebraska,” said Shane Lohmeier, director.

The department has invested in new state-of-the-art equipment in its sudden cardiac arrest care.

It is also sponsoring outreach programs on this potentially life-or-death issue to get the community more involved in helping stricken victims when every second counts.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. When SCA happens, the person collapses and doesn’t respond or breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure.

SCA leads to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away.

In fact, according to information provided by Lohmeier, only one in 10 who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest will survive if there is nobody around who can apply CPR immediately.

If there is someone with the knowledge of applying CPR immediately, then five in 10 could survive.

What’s more, seven in 10 cases of SCA occur at home.

“The goal is to interact with the community more, to get out in the community and do more outreach,” Lohmeier said.

This includes expanding its public CPR classes that began last year.

According to Lohmeier, his department has tracked bystander CPR for the past five years and has discovered that CPR is only initiated 35 percent of the time, prior to EMS arrival in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“The goal in hosting local CPR classes is to increase the overall percentage of bystander CPR in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest,” Lohmeier said.

In 2022, his department offered a community class of CPR and First Aid and it filled within 24 hours, he said.

“In 2023, we have aligned our goals with educating the public in the importance of learning CPR. Partnering with local businesses, organizations and city officials to reach a goal of 100 newly trained providers in the community is one example of how we are accomplishing this goal.”

His department has held three classes this month already and has had 22 participants total, Lohmeier said. The average CPR class takes approximately two hours.

For those interested in getting CPR certified, the easiest way to gain more information is through the Plattsmouth EMS Facebook page, Lohmeier said.

“The goal is to get as many people as possible to be comfortable with CPR and be qualified,” Lohmeier said. “They become an extension of the rescue squad.”

Classes are available for individuals or groups. When community members are trained in CPR by experts like Plattsmouth’s EMS department, they become confident in providing these potentially life-saving measures in those important early moments while EMS is in route, Lohmeier said.

“You know you are doing things the right way,” added Mayor Paul Lambert.

To reach out to the community is not new to the department, particularly during the recent COVID-19 pandemic when it provided vaccinations.

“Hundreds were getting vaccinated in a single day,” said Emily Bausch, city administrator.

The department has also invested equipment for improved care involving cardiac arrest. Both “front ambulances,” the first two out the door, now feature an automated device attached to the chest that can perform CPR more continuously and efficiently than a person, who might otherwise need to temporarily stop to move the victim.

“It’s much easier now to move the victim,” Lohmeier said.

The department has also invested in the newest versions of cardiac monitors. These allow him and his staff to take pictures of the heart and measure any disruptions or abnormalities. Then, this information can be sent immediately to a hospital’s cardiology department so that when the rescue squad arrives at the hospitals, doctors know immediately how to respond to the victim.

The department has three of these monitors on hand for such use, Lohmeier said.

“It’s worth the investment,” Bausch said. “We believe it’s one of the best tools.”

The Plattsmouth EMS Department covers 64 square miles that includes surrounding areas beyond the city limits.

Last year, it handled 1,145 calls. It also has achieved a fine response time from dispatch to arrival.

“We have some amazing resources providing services,” Bausch said.

Lambert added, “Our quality of service is unheard of in this area.”

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