Heart Attack Victims Urged to Call 911 at Onset of Symptoms

Less than half of Irving heart attack victims call 911 for help. The Fire Department and American Heart Association wants residents to trust 911.

Most people instinctively call 911 when the house catches fire, but what about in the event of a heart attack? In partnership with the American Heart Association (SouthWest), Irving Fire Department officials say 911 should be the first call for any heart attack victim.

Statistics show that when experiencing a heart attack, most Irving residents are not likely to call 911 for help. Reasons for this statistic vary — some people do not recognize the signs of a heart attack or think the symptoms will eventually fade away, others drive themselves to care thinking they can get quicker medical attention or to avoid perceived costs. Regardless of the reasons, Irving paramedics can help heart attack victims get the fastest and most effective treatment.

According to AHA, signs of a heart attack include chest discomfort, discomfort in upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea and light-headedness. At the onset of possible heart attack symptoms, the survival clock starts ticking and the first action, according to Irving Fire Department and the AHA, is to call 911. Trusting Irving paramedics saves time and lives.

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Jan 14 2016 Proclamation | Don't Die of Doubt Day

Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley and Battalion Chief Steve Deutsch (far left and right) joined the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Voices for Healthy Kids, Texas Grassroots Director Victoria Nelson; Bill Mattingly, a heart attack survivor, Irving resident and AHA volunteer; and AHA Dallas Executive Director Melissa Cameron to celebrate a city-wide proclamation that made Jan. 14, 2016 "Don’t Die of Doubt Day."

Minutes matter

Medical care begins at the time of the call from a person managing heart attack symptoms. Dispatchers, who are trained for emergency calls, ask a set of questions to begin the assessment of the situation. If the dispatcher determines the caller might be undergoing a heart attack, Irving paramedics will arrive to the scene within a matter of minutes.

Upon arrival, paramedics can further assess a person’s condition and they have the ability to initiate an electrocardiogram (ECG) on-site. Paramedics also are trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped and can administer advanced life-saving cardiac medications to heart attack patients. Moreover, paramedics are trained to adequately stabilize the patient for transport to the nearest and most appropriate hospital.

By the time a patient arrives at the treating hospital, advanced care and treatment usually begins upon arrival because Irving paramedics already have communicated necessary medical information, such as the ECG results, to the hospital. With initial testing completed, people experiencing chest pains who arrive at the hospital via ambulance bypass emergency room waits of self-transported patients and are fast-tracked to the catheterization laboratory for continued care.

Reducing time to treatment is the No. 1 factor in saving lives in the event of a heart attack, and calling 911 at the onset of symptoms can save up to an hour in the overall treatment process. The message AHA wants to get out by way of the City of Irving Fire Department is for residents to trust 911, and not to die of doubt.

AHA is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Irving Fire Department’s partnership with AHA is funded in part by a grant from the W.W. Caruth Communities Foundation of Texas.

To learn more about AHA’s national Don’t Die of Doubt campaign and to see collection of survival story videos from everyday people who experienced the symptoms as well as the doubts, visit Heart.org.