Paramedics would take the person to the emergency room, call in a cardiologist and then head to the cardiac catheterization lab.
Today, CMMC has a different protocol in place. Doctors say the hospital is the first in Maine to train paramedics to read an EKG and to activate CMMC's cardiac team if they believe the person is having a heart attack.
"We've had people arrive at the hospital," says Dr. William Phillips, the Director of Cardiology at CMMC, "and if the interventional cardiologist is present the patient will literally keep moving directly from the ambulance bay right to the cardiac cath lab."
There, the cardiac team--which is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week--can do a catheterization to find the blockage and hopefully, fix it. Doctors say they're able to open an artery within twenty minutes of the patient arriving at the hospital instead of what was once ninety minutes or more.
EMS Director, Dr. Kevin Kendall, says in these cases time is of the essence.
"Just like when you have that golden hour in trauma care," says Kendall, "you have the golden ninety minutes in cardiac care where time is muscle and the quicker you get the patient to the cath lab the more of that myocardium, the heart muscle, you save."