One of the risks of living in Teller County is suffering a stroke and not being treated quickly enough to prevent irreversible effects.
But that risk has chiefly been removed now that local paramedics can provide tPA: tissue plasminogen activator.
“There is a window from the onset of a stroke — we have up to 4 and 1/2 hours to get the patient quickly to the fastest place for neurointervention,” said Jeremy DeWall, medical director for Ute Pass Regional Paramedic Services who is also a paramedic. “We’ve been working almost a year to get this.”
District paramedics, along with those of Southwest Teller County Emergency Medical Services and Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District, are among just nine state agencies to carry the medication that effectively halts blood clotting.
“Eighty-nine percent of all strokes involve a blood clot,” said Dave Hansher, paramedic with Ute Pass Regional Health Services District, who leads the training team at the services district. “tPA is a clot-buster.”
With the medication, the paramedics offer the first line of attack to halt the debilitating effects of a stroke not treated within that critical time frame. “We can help the hospital because we can start the medicine at the onset of symptoms,” Hansher said.
DeWall credits the new service to the recent sale of Pikes Peak Regional Hospital to UCHealth. “We’re fortunate that UCHealth is on board — it’s working out really well,” he said.