LARGO — Sunstar EMS has been recognized with the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Recognition Award for the fourth year in a row.

This award goes to EMS agencies for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. This is the highest award level possible from the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline category.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.

To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication. Healthcare providers’ action during the first several hours of a heart attack determine the level of benefit from intervention and treatment.

The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Its recognition program distinguishes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.

Sunstar has worked to enhance coordination with other health care providers in the area in order to speed up the treatment for STEMI patients whose lives depend on quick response.

“Sunstar is dedicated to providing optimal care for heart attack patients,” said John Peterson, Sunstar’s chief operations officer. “We are pleased to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in emergency medical care efforts through Mission: Lifeline for the sixth time, the fourth at the gold plus level, and will continue to provide the highest level of service to all of our patients.”

Sunstar is the 911 ambulance transport service for all Pinellas County residents, employing 750 Tampa Bay residents, and responding to around 520 calls per day.