Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Calling 911 Can Save Your Life

When you or someone you are near experience the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, what do you do? Many people know they should call 9-1-1, but in studies, less than half of all heart attack patients arrive at medical care via emergency medical services (EMS). Too many patients drive themself, or ask a friend or loved one to drive them to the hospital.

Why should you call 9-1-1?
When you call 9-1-1 in response to a health emergency (which a heart attack IS!!) you initiate a chain of response that puts you on the fast-track to receiving care. Emergency personnel are not just fancy bus drivers; these individuals are trained medical professionals that can start diagnosing, and in some cases treating you, in route. This can save critical time that gives the patient a much higher chance of a positive outcome. Patients that can be identified by the EMS staff in many cases can bypass the ER altogether, and go straight to definitive care. While this is not happening everywhere yet, it is happening in more and more cities and hospitals as hospitals and EMS staff work better together.

The American Heart Association recommends that all those experiencing what they think even might be a heart attack to call 9-1-1, and recommends that the EMS responders triage (assess and diagnose) the patient en-route, and call ahead to the destination hospital to get the receiving team ready to receive the patient. In fact, our Mission: Lifeline initiative focuses on this very process to ensure that more patients lives are saved, because time is muscle and every minute (literally every minute) is critical.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune underscores the value of calling 911 and of heart attack patients bypassing the ER:,0,6976536.story, and we are glad to see more success stories like this. BUT all this success depends upon the first link in the chain of care: the patient calling 9-1-1.

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