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Colonie EMS nabs national award

Politis also said the "return of spontaneous circulation" increased from 23 percent to 41 percent, and there was a decrease in the time to unblock clogged coronary arteries from 88 minutes to less than 45 minutes.

He said that part of why the EMS has experienced such success is its ability to use a wireless modem to transmit images of victims to hospitals to help make the doctors' jobs easier when the person arrives, he said.

Politis gave credit to the American Heart Association for developing the guidelines used by Colonie EMS, as well as all of the hard work of the paramedics.

"After the release of the 2005 American Heart Association changes in emergency cardiac care, we began a critical analysis of our system and our outcomes, studying each component of our system to find ways to optimize our response. The results of those efforts have been dramatic and would not have been possible without the outstanding effort put forth by our EMTs and paramedics," said Politis.

Katherine McCarthy, senior regional director for the American Heart Association, said the hard work of the AHA did not get wasted in Colonie.

"The town of Colonie always steps up to meet these guidelines," McCarthy said.

Bob Elling, who serves with Colonie EMS and helped develop the standards for responding to cardiac arrest, said Colonie took the AHA recommendations "to heart" when some other communities did not.

"They put a lot of effort into all of the pieces of the puzzle that is takes to a save a life," Elling said.

Elling said everything from the emergency response system to the police and fire department communication to the training helped contribute to the high success rate of emergency response.

Dailey, who works with Albany Medical Center and as well as being a regional and local EMS director, said another technique contributing to the high life-saving rate is therapeutic hypothermia, which lowers body temperature below 93 degrees after the victim is resuscitated to help reduce damage to the brain in the 24 hours immediately after the cardiac arrest.

Beginning in 2009, the town's EMS implemented a cooling process in the field before the victims are taken to a hospital.

"The most important thing to emphasize is that this is for the whole community's emergency response," Politis said of the honor. "This really is a team effort."

Colonie EMS has 80 career and 30 volunteer staff members. It answers close to 10,000 calls each year.

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