Skip to content
December 08, 2023

Alexander EMS receives Heart Assoc. Gold Plus Award

EMS AWARD — Alexander County EMS supervisors are pictured with the framed certificate for the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Award. From left to right: Doug Gillispie, Director of Public Services; Kevin Richards, Captain/Training Coordinator; Wes Thompson, Captain; Jeff Sigmon, Major; and Tim Mann, Captain.

Alexander County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Gold Plus Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks, according to a county press release.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which is the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.
“Alexander County EMS is dedicated to providing optimal care for heart attack patients. I would like to commend our EMS employees for their level of care, skill, knowledge, training, and expertise,” said Doug Gillispie, Alexander County Director of Public Services. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care efforts through Mission: Lifeline.”

The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

“EMTs and paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who have heart attacks,” said Tim Henry, M.D., Chairperson of the Mission: Lifeline Acute Coronary Syndrome Subcommittee. “Since they often are the first medical point of contact, they can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart attack patient. We applaud Alexander County EMS for achieving this award in following evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of people who have severe heart attacks.”
Gillispie said that every second counts when a local EMS crew treats and transports patients who are having a heart attack.

“EMS plays a crucial role in the immediate and long-term survival of a heart attack patient. This is especially true since we don’t have a local hospital as our EMS employees provide treatment and care for an extended transport time,” Gillispie stated. “The majority of heart attack damage is done during the first two hours, so if a resident is experiencing heart attack symptoms, don’t delay calling 9-1-1.”

Heart attack symptoms could include the following:

• Pain or discomfort in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, which can be described as uncomfortable pressure, burning, squeezing, fullness, or pain
• Discomfort in other areas of the body including one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach area
• Shortness of breath, which can occur with or without chest discomfort
• Other signs of concern associated with the above symptoms could include cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness

Gillispie praised the EMS staff for their lifesaving efforts, and for helping the department earn the Gold Plus Award this year. The local EMS earned the Silver Plus Award last year, which is a prerequisite for attaining the Gold designation.

“I am extremely proud of our dedicated EMS staff for their hard work and lifesaving efforts as they truly care about the citizens of Alexander County,” Gillispie said.

For more information about the Mission: Lifeline EMS recognition or heart attack care, contact Alexander County EMS at (828) 632-4166 or

About Mission: Lifeline EMS Recognition

Mission: Lifeline EMS recognition is a program designed to showcase Emergency Medical Service organizations across the nation for excellent STEMI care. Pre-hospital personnel are the first providers of care to patients suffering from cardiac emergencies. The role of EMS in the system-of-care for these patients is crucial and often sets the course for the patient’s outcome. The Mission: Lifeline EMS recognition program launched in 2014 and continues to celebrate the achievement of the pre-hospital providers and their collaboration with each other and destination hospitals specific to STEMI patient care.

Leave a Comment