Seconds Count with Heart Attacks & Strokes

Calling 9-1-1 instead of driving yourself, or a loved one, to a nearby emergency department can be the difference between life and death when it comes to heart attacks and strokes.

Quick treatment can help limit damage to the heart and brain and increase the chance of a full recovery. “It is imperative to call 9-1-1 after the onset of heart attack or stroke symptoms. What people may not realize is patients’ care truly begins with a call,” said Jennifer Sedbrook, OSF Cardiovascular Service Line Leader.

Ambulance Driving with Lights OnAccording to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, 50 percent of people drive themselves to the hospital when heart attack and stroke symptoms are present. However, nationally and locally, the average time from arrival to treatment is significantly reduced by ambulance.

When the call is made, an emergency medical dispatcher will provide pre-arrival instructions and gather information until the first responders arrive. Emergency responders are trained with life-saving techniques they can use if needed.

Once first responders have assessed the patient, they contact the hospital emergency department, informing them of a possible heart attack or stroke patient. While in route to the hospital, medical staff in the emergency department can begin preparation for the patient; they will arrange medical equipment and specific treatment rooms or labs, and specialists and staff are brought together, all before the patient arrives. Also, if someone drives on their own, they place themselves and others at risk if they were to lose consciousness.

OSF St. Joseph Raises the Bar in Patient Care & Spreads Awareness

At OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, we are taking steps to advance our heart attack and stroke care. We’ve made process improvements through collaboration with different organizations such as OSF Saint James – John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac, and McLean County Area EMS. Each month, our staff meets with these organizations to perform case reviews to evaluate our processes and determine if there is room for improvement. By enhancing our care at OSF St. Joseph, patients receive treatment faster.

OSF St. Joseph also recently collaborated with McLean County Area EMS to educate the community on the importance of calling 9-1-1 for heart attacks and strokes, with a campaign called “Don’t Drive, Call 9-1-1.” “Education is the key component of this campaign. It’s vital people know they have a better chance of a full recovery if they call 9-1-1,” said Sedbrook.

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