SOUTH POINT, Ohio - Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services ambulance crews were recognized Tuesday by the American Heart Association for the quality of care and outcomes provided for the most serious type of heart attacks.

Ambulance officials received the 2019 Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award during a presentation at a Lawrence County Board of Commissioners meeting at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce.

The ambulance system was one of 99 agencies in Ohio and one of 593 across the country to receive the heart association's Mission Lifeline EMS Performance Achievement Award this year, according to Cynthia A. Keely, the heart association's quality and systems improvement director based in Charleston.

"This is a team effort," said Lori Morris, director of the county's ambulance service.

The ambulance district has a policy of using 12-lead electrocardiograms and coordinating heart care information with hospitals in Huntington, Ashland and Russell, Kentucky.

"We have professionals on the front lines every day," said Commissioner DeAnna Holliday.

Dr. Colton Copley, a county commissioner and emergency room doctor, said he appreciates the job done by the county's ambulance system.

Heart attacks require timely treatment, Keely said. To prevent death, it's critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked blood vessel or by providing clot-busting medication, she said.

The correct tools and training allow EMS providers to rapidly identify serious heart attacks and promptly notify local hospitals to activate an early response by hospital personnel, Keely said.

County ambulance personnel had 193 more runs last month compared to May 2018. There have been about 380 more ambulance runs through the first five months of the year, compared to a similar period last year, said Mac Yates, an administrator at the countywide ambulance service.

The Emergency Medical Service has ambulance stations in Ironton, South Point, Chesapeake, Rome Township and in Aid.

The district is close to starting construction on a new ambulance adjacent to Rock Hill schools this year and is planning to open a newer station in Rome Township in the coming months.

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