Madison County's Emergency Medical Services, or EMS, is not a stranger to doing what's best for Madison County. That's why it is no surprise that the organization once again received the Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award and is only one of five services in the state to achieve this high distinction.

The award, which is given by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recognizes the life-saving role EMS provides in transporting patients having major heart attacks or ST elevations myocardial infarction (STEMI). Each year bronze, silver, gold and gold plus awards are given.

In order for Madison County EMS to receive the Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award, emergency personnel achieved a 75% or higher compliance score for each specific EMS quality measure for 24 months, according to the American Heart Association.

Carlos Coyle, Madison County EMS director, said the agency applies each year for the award, which isn't as easy as one would think. Information and records regarding EMS runs and patient care from the moment EMS arrives to the moment patients receive treatment at area hospitals such as Baptist Health Richmond are some of the things that are looked at.

"You never want to have a heart attack, but Madison County is a great place to have one if you're gonna," Coyle said. "The system works and starts by calling 911. It's all about time -- from time of the call to the time of the intervention."

The American Heart Association noted standards include:

• Percentage of patients with non-traumatic chest pain, age 35 years or older, treated and transported by EMS, who receive pre-hospital 12 Lead electrocardiograms.

• Percentage of STEMI patients transported to a STEMI receiving center, with pre-hospital first medical contact to device (the vessel opened) within 90 minutes or less.

• Percentage of 12 Lead electrocardiograms on patients complaining of chest pains in the field, performed within 10 minutes of first medical contact.

But Coyle said this award isn't a reflection of him, but of the hardworking team at Madison County EMS.

"It's certainly not about me or administration, it's about the people on the street who are doing the work," Coyle said. "It's the staff, it's the team, not any one individual, but the entire team."

Another demonstration of that teamwork comes in the form of another accreditation achieved from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) for complying with national benchmarks.

The accreditation comes after a strenuous review of the work the agency has been doing over the course of a few years. It takes roughly a year to gather all of the information and records to submit, too, but the accreditation lasts for three years.

And Madison County is only one of three counties in Kentucky to receive it.

Coyle said it took more than a year to complete the application, supply the data, and have the on-site evaluation, where every aspect of the service was evaluated.

He noted that the organization is required to provide documentation on every piece of their operation from the time a phone rang until the emergency run was over, as well as meeting more than 130 benchmarks, some of those being response times, quality assurance, finances and employee files.

Coyle said that with CAAS, it is not enough to simply have a policy on paper. CAAS requires all ambulance services to follow its policies, as well as track and trend it.

Another measuring stick was how ambulance services handled patient complaints, such as providing solutions and how problems could be prevented from happening again.

"It not only improves our service for our community and able to meet that standard for themselves, it verifies that EMS is meeting and exceeding standards across the national standards," Coyle said. "It increases patient care because they require a number of things and they have a big emphasis on education and quality improvement."

Coyle stated Madison County EMS never would have been able to receive the prestigious accreditation without the men and women working with them at the agency.

According to its website, CAAS is a non-profit organization established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America's medical transportation system.

"We are meeting the gold standard of EMS," Ron Jackson, assistant director, said to Coyle. It also shows residents that Madison County EMS is making great efforts to provide them with the best medical services it can, as it surpasses just the state accreditation that is required.

"We are very proud of it. This is a much more rigorous inspection," Coyle said. "They require a much higher standard to receive this accreditation."

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