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Partnership Between Emergency Medical Services and Maine Medical Center Speeds Treatment for Heart Attack Patients
MMC Applauds EMS Efforts as Part of National EMS Week (May 16-22)

More than 300 heart attack patients have received life-saving treatment faster over the past year thanks to an initiative between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Greater Portland and Maine Medical Center (MMC). Immediate treatment is critical for patients suffering from a type of heart attack known as a STEMI, which involves a blockage in an artery. Taking part in a national initiative to decrease the time between arrival in the emergency department and treatment in the cardiac catherization lab (cath lab), EMS and MMC have seen dramatic results.

The national goal is for 75 percent of STEMI patients to have their blockage cleared in less than ninety minutes. At MMC, 94 percent of these patients receive treatment within that time.

The success stems from a change in the timeline of treatment. In the past, confirmation that a patient was suffering from a STEMI was not made until after they arrived in the emergency department. Now, EMS personnel are able to diagnose the type of heart attack long before arrival at the hospital. This allows for the cath lab team to prepare much sooner, saving critical time between diagnosis and treatment.

"It takes rigorous training to become a paramedic. As part of this initiative, more than 200 local paramedics have received additional training because they believe in the importance of this program and the benefit to the community," says Doug Patey, Chief Paramedic/Assistant Chief, Falmouth Fire-EMS Department. 

In addition to receiving education from cardiologists at Maine Medical Center, paramedics also spend four hours observing procedures in the cath lab, learning important details about the treatment their patients will receive. In order for an EMS provider to participate in the program, all of its EMS personnel must complete this in-depth, comprehensive training.

"We are extremely grateful for the commitment that local EMS providers have made to Maine Medical Center's STEMI initiative because they are an integral part of our team," says Matthew Sholl, MD, an emergency physician at Maine Medical Center and EMS Medical Director for Maine Health. "The difference EMS has made in the care of patients suffering from this particular kind of heart attack has been phenomenal. Research shows that every 10 minutes saved getting a patient to the cath lab results in a 1 percent decrease in the overall mortality rate."

Currently, participating EMS providers include:

  • Buxton(end of May)
  • Cape Elizabeth (end of May)
  • Cumberland
  • Falmouth
  • Freeport
  • Gorham
  • MEDCU (Portland Fire Department)
  • Naples
  • North East Ambulance
  • North Yarmouth
  • Scarborough
  • South Portland
  • Standish
  • Westbrook
  • Windham
  • Yarmouth
Maine Medical Center is the designated STEMI-receiving hospital for the Greater Portland area.

Maine Medical Center (MMC) is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1864, MMC is the state's largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 6,000 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is a member of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in southern, central, and western Maine.


Contact: Tiffany Nelson
Marketing Manager
(207) 662-5032 (office)


Maine Medical Center | 22 Bramhall Street | Portland, Maine 04102-3175 | (207) 662-0111