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Mission:Lifeline Helping all Montanans


The Mission:Lifeline program has been at work for a little over a year in Montana working to improve the outcome of cardiac arrest patients in rural parts of the state.  The program has given out over a million dollars to hospitals and emergency service providers in rural areas to purchase expensive but lifesaving equipment that rural providers can not otherwise afford.

As the program enters its second year they are starting the next phase of outreach to improve cardiac arrest outcomes. Program directors have reached out to the Native American Communities in Montana in order to help improve the outcome of cardiac arrest patients in the Native American communities.

EMS services on all six of Montana’s reservations, plus a tribe with 4,500 Native Americans, have received equipment allocations through a $4.6 million donation by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“Native American risk factors for heart disease are twice as high as anyone else’s because of their body makeup and ethnicities,” said Lacey Gallagher, the spirit of women coordinator for Benefis Health System in Great Falls.

There are about 42,000 people living on reservations and roughly double that number of Native Americans living off reservations in Montana. Life expectancy is more than four years lower than the national average. Obesity is a common risk factor for many of the diseases this group faces, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The equipment being purchased with the grant funds includes 12 lead EKGs in ambulances and the technology to transmit those results to hospitals. In parts of Montana it might take up to two hours for a responder to get to a victim. Time matters when it comes to outcomes and the 12 lead EKG equipment lets responders transmit EKG results from a rural location to the hospital so a plan can be formed in minutes and doctors are ready when the patient arrives.

It all begins with a call to 911, said Joani Hope, Montana’s Mission: Lifeline director.

“Being able to provide information on your heart from the first few minutes that first responders are on the scene can help physicians make lifesaving decisions much earlier,” Hope said.
Wyoming, received a similar grant and has reduced deaths from 7.1 to 4.1 percent, according to data collected by the AHA.

American Indian heart health resources
Mission: Lifeline

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