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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingA hundred and fifty Americans die from heart problems before ever reaching the hospital.
Pat Coffey was just forty-three when she had crushing chest pain.
Pat Coffey: "I couldn't breathe, I could hardly speak."
In hopes of saving time, her husband drove her straight to the ER, a move that could have cost valuable time. Dial 9-1-1 and the emergency medical system gets tripped into gear.
Dr. Clay Mann, University of Utah: “Treatment actually starts 26 minutes quicker for those who access EMS or 9-1-1, compared to those who self-transport to the hospital.”
Doctor Mann and colleagues looked at twenty communities across the U.S. and found the time savings was universal. He says the emergency medical system brings part of the hospital to your home so life-saving care can begin immediately.
And that's not all. Paramedics are able to warn the hospital when a patient with a cardiac emergency is headed in so definitive treatment, like clot-busting medication, can be ready when the patient arrives.
Dr. Mann: "We found those folks who called 9-1-1 and accessed EMS actually received definitive therapy, thrombolytic therapy, 17 minutes quicker than those who self-present in an emergency department."
When it comes to a heart attack, time is of the essence. Your heart is being strangled for every minute you're not receiving treatment. But nationwide fewer than half the people having chest pain dial 9-1-1.
Dr. Mann: "Nobody wants the attention drawn to them. You know, the big ambulance comes into your driveway and the lights are flashing and everybody in the neighborhood wants to know what's happened. And then if it turns out that it isn't any real big thing then you're embarrassed."
With 250,000 Americans dying each year from coronary events before ever reaching the hospital, there's no room for being embarrassed--it's time to save a life.