St. Luke’s EMS Physician Response Team Partners with Bethlehem Ambulance Crews

en flag
es flag

The blue, gold and white Ford Expedition with the St. Luke’s logo on its doors rushed along Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem on route to assist an ambulance crew caring for a patient with an unusual, life-threatening medical emergency.

This specialized vehicle is a key component of a new partnership between St. Luke’s Emergency Medicine Department and Northampton County, aimed at saving more lives at on-scene accidents and incidents in Bethlehem.

Bryan Wilson, MD, St. Luke’s EMS Fellowship Director and Director the EMS Response program, explained: “This new collaboration with Northampton County and our first-responder partners puts our fellowship-trained emergency medical services faculty physicians and fellows in the field in a mobile manner to supplement and support the medically complex care provided by emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics in the community.”

St. Luke’s mobile EMS Response Team is the first one of its kind in the Lehigh Valley area, currently serving ambulance units from the City of Bethlehem EMS, Suburban EMS and Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company and expecting to add other units in the future.

The grant-funded $250,000 vehicle, like a mini-ER on wheels, is equipped with state-of-the-art heart monitor/defibrillator, integrated CPR and ventilation feedback devices, life-saving medications, advanced airway management supplies and a hand-held ultrasound machine. Plans are underway to carry emergency blood for on-scene transfusions when there is major blood loss.

Dr. Wilson was behind the wheel of the Ford that day, responding to a request for assistance from the EMS crew. Together, he and the EMS crew worked with staff from a cardiologist’s office to save the patient’s life after his pacemaker malfunctioned. The team was able to safely deliver the living patient to a nearby hospital for follow-up care.

Based at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus, the EMS Response Team receives requests from an ambulance crew through Northampton County’s 911 Center. The Response Team also provides continuing hands-on emergency medicine education to first responders in the county.  These services “help show EMS clinicians how much we value their expertise and possibly address recruitment and retention issues faced by EMS services professionals across the region,” added Dr. Wilson.

“What the EMS Response Team brings to that on-scene setting are extra hands and an advanced understanding of the patient’s pathophysiology (disease processes), so we can better the direct the care of the patient, in partnership with the on-scene EMTs and paramedics, thinking outside of the box, when necessary, to save lives.”

Photo caption: Bryan Wilson, MD, St. Luke’s EMS Fellowship Director and Director the EMS Response program.

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 20,000 employees providing services at 15 campuses and 350+ outpatient sites.  With annual net revenue of $3.4 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties in two states: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. St. Luke’s hospitals operate the largest network of trauma centers in Pennsylvania, with the Bethlehem Campus being home to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital.

Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania.  In partnership with Temple University, the Network established the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school campus.  It also operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 52 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with more than 500 residents and fellows. In 2022, St. Luke’s, a member of the Children’s Hospital Association, opened the Lehigh Valley’s first and only free-standing facility dedicated entirely to kids.

SLUHN is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system to earn Medicare’s five-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.  It is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital.  The Network’s flagship University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from Fortune/PINC AI 10 years in a row, including in 2023 when it was identified as THE #4 TEACHING HOSPITAL IN THE COUNTRY.  In 2021, St. Luke’s was identified as one of the 15 Top Health Systems nationally.  Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information.  The Network is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest-cost providers.


Information and image provided to TVL by:
Sam Kennedy