IJN partners First Ambulance to reduce time for emergency cardiac care

With the partnership, micro-management of coordination will be done immediately as soon as a call has been made to First Ambulance’s centre


The National Heart Institute (IJN) has partnered First Ambulance Services Sdn Bhd to reduce door-to-balloon time for emergency cardiac care in the Klang Valley.

IJN CEO Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub said through the partnership, the micro-management of coordination will be done immediately as soon as a call has been made to First Ambulance’s centre.

“By the time the patient calls the number, the system will begin coordinating required information. The call centre will alert our emergency centre, and our emergency centre will alert our cardiologist on call, which means everyone will be alerted,” he said at the launch and ambulance preview ceremony yesterday.

He said an ambulance unit would be equipped with devices to perform electrocardiography (ECG) on the way to the institute’s heart attack centre, and transmit the information to the cardiologist.

“So, the doctor on call will be able to verify whether or not it is a suspected heart attack from the ECG, which means that there will be less time spent at the emergency room because they would have already received information on the patient’s ECG and age,” he explained.

To date, the institute has achieved a 45-minute door-to-balloon time, which is half the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology’s recommended time of 90 minutes.

Dr Mohd Azhari said the institute will continue monitoring the hospital’s door-to-balloon performance.

“But with this service, 30 to 45 minutes is still good,” he said.

The door-to-balloon time indicates the time taken from the arrival at the emergency centre to the time a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, which is part of the percutaneous coronary intervention procedure.

Dr Mohd Azhari also added that First Ambulance paramedics have been trained in both basic life support and advanced cardiac life support by the institute.

“This training was provided by IJN itself, so I am confident that these paramedics are able to give the best support to patients.

“It is my hope that this partnership with First Ambulance will enable even more patients to access our heart attack centre, and that more Malaysians are aware of what steps they can take should they experience a heart attack,” he said.

Meanwhile, First Ambulance director Steven Penafort said currently the service has 27 units running.

“These 27 units comprise advanced support ambulances as well as basic life support, while most of them are running in the Klang Valley area. For example, if a patient is calling from Subang, we will deploy a unit within that area,” he said.

He added that the collaboration with IJN is a joint venture, whereby First Ambulance will provide the ambulance, and IJN will ready the equipments as they plan to expand the fleet in the future.

“Each ambulance costs roughly around RM500,000, which includes the transmission, staff and investment.

“However, to say that we have a target number by one year would be too soon, as one ambulance takes around six months to obtain, but ideally, to cover all grounds in the Klang Valley, we’ll need around 150 units,” he said.