It is something that happens in real life every day, in this case it’s a training drill; one that highlights a very real health crisis is a heart attack. Too many times people don’t recognize what’s happening.
“They’re going to know they’re having chest pain, they’re having shortness of breath for no reason; they can’t stop sweating for absolutely no reason. They’re nauseous, their left arm hurts, their neck or jaw hurts. They’re having any kind of these symptoms or any one of these symptoms and it just doesn’t feel right,” says Deputy Chief Warren Panem, with Lee County Fire EMS.
But first responders are ready for them. And so is Gulf Coast Medical Center. Together they’re using advanced equipment to speed treatment.
“Part of our new technology is to take a patient who is having chest pain and we’re going to do EKG’s on them and then we can transmit the EKG straight to the hospital,” says Panem.
These situations call for a very orchestrated series of events. The American Heart Association calls it ‘90 minutes from door to balloon time’.
“EMS can transfer the EKG to the emergency room prior to the patient getting here so we can get the cath lab manned and ready to go and have the cardiologist standing by. That should knock off another 8 to 9 minutes so we’re looking to get this below 60 minutes,” says Dr. Larry Hobbs, ER physician with Lee Memorial Health System.
After leaving the ER, patients are prepped for treatment. Most of the time a major blood vessel is closed.
“When the artery is down and the patient is hurting a lot, even more important then his pain is the on-going damage to the heart muscle, because the artery is closed. And that is why time is very important, and we call it ‘Time is Muscle’,” says Dr. Subhash Kshetrapal, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Enter the balloon, or angioplasty. It’s threaded via catheter to open the clogged artery. The combo of technology and teamwork is shrinking time and lowering the risk of death and damage.