Paramedics in mid and west Wales have used a drug to help a heart attack victim for the first time.
Paramedics have been trained to administer the drug
For the past week, paramedics have been now able to give patients a clot-busting drug at the scene of a heart attack.
It is aimed at saving lives in a so-called 'golden hour' after an attack.
The drug was first used in Lampeter on Friday after a 43-year-old man suffered a serious heart attack.
Paramedics administered the drug and then took him to Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth.
Richard Hook, clinical operations officer with the ambulance service, said by the time the patient got to hospital he was able to walk and even wanted to go home.
For the last week, paramedics have been able to give patients a thrombolitic drug at the scene of a heart attack, potentially saving their lives or increasing the recovery time after an attack.
The ambulance service believes that heart attack victims stand a 50% greater chance of survival now that paramedics for the first time will be able to use a drug only previously administered in hospital.
Mr Hook has spent the last 18 months training 270 paramedics to use the drug.
Crews based at Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Lampeter and New Quay are the first to use it.
HOW THE DRUG WORKS
Thrombolysis means the breaking up of blood clots
Once a clot starts to form in a blood vessel, it may carry on getting bigger until the whole vessel is blocked
The drug is injected and helps improve the blood flow to the heart muscle
The sooner the blood flow can be restored, the better the chances of survival and recovery
Following tests a modified version of the drug has been developed that can be used by ambulance crews in the field.
Martin Lane, of Mid and South West Wales Cardiac Network, said the move would benefit patients in rural areas.
The network's key functions are to assist the Welsh Assembly Government in setting up a cardiac services' strategy and advising on cardiac policy and issues.
"It's vital heart attack victims receive treatment within an hour," Mr Lane said.
The drug was introduced among paramedics in Ceredigion last Monday and later this month it should be available in Bridgend and the rest of south west and mid Wales later in the year.
Mr Hook said the aim is for all areas of Wales to be equipped with the drug which, has been available to ambulance crews in England for the past 18 months.