Island ambulance crews get advanced heart monitors

Ambulance crews assembled and tested the new heart monitors at the Edgartown Fire Station Thursday, October 10. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Every ambulance on Martha’s Vineyard will soon have a state-of-the-art portable heart monitor aboard that can help doctors get a cardiac patient the right treatment sooner.

Thirteen of the monitors arrived on the Island this week, along with training material and patient simulators.

The compact units, about the size of a small backpack, include heart defibrillators, advanced monitoring equipment, and wireless communication capability. The units allow medics to see a screen display that shows the patient’s condition, as soon as the ambulance arrives at the scene.

Eventually, doctors at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will be able to see a real time, continuous display of all the vital information, long before the patient arrives at the emergency room.

“We are going to move forward with getting the hospital the right equipment so they can see the data,” Edgartown ambulance coordinator Alex Schaefer said. “That’s the ultimate goal, to be able to transmit that data from the back of the ambulance, or the bedside, back to the hospital so the doctor will be able to see it.”

Ambulance crews will begin training on the new equipment October 18. When training is complete, the new equipment will go aboard ambulances in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and the Tri-Town Ambulance service, as well as a U.S. Coast Guard medical evacuation unit operated by the Oak Bluffs ambulance department.

The Edgartown Fire Department, working as the lead department for all Island ambulance services, purchased the new equipment with a $476,425 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).