In 2012, McLean County Area EMS System and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center launched an educational campaign called, “Don’t Drive, Call 9-1-1,” to educate the community on the importance of calling 9-1-1 as opposed to driving to the hospital in the case of a heart attack or stroke.
The campaign continues to educate the community, including employees at COUNTRY Financial.
On the morning of March 3, 2014, COUNTRY Financial employee, Chuck Bennett, was speaking to a coworker when his speech suddenly became slurred. Without hesitating, Carla Maicke informed other coworkers in the surrounding cubicles, and fellow coworker, Justin Bowling, immediately called 9-1-1.
“Time is of the essence,” said Bowling. “My advice for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is to react, and never just assume everything will be okay.” EMS arrived and transported Bennett to the Emergency Department at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, where a team of nurses and physicians were awaiting his arrival. They were able to provide treatment quickly, and Bennett is on his way to a successful recovery.
“I am forever grateful to my coworkers who responded appropriately and quickly to address my situation,” said Bennett. “It made all the difference in my recovery from the stroke and ultimately may have saved my life. If I could go back and script out that I was going to have a massive stroke that morning, I would not change anything my coworkers did, and I would not change going to OSF,” said Bennett.
According 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, times for emergent treatment to begin are drastically reduced for individuals that call 9-1-1 during medical emergencies.
What people may not realize is patients’ care truly begins with a call. When the call is made, an emergency medical dispatcher will provide pre-arrival instructions until the first responders arrive and gather information about symptoms. Emergency responders are trained with lifesaving techniques they can use if needed, and while in route to the hospital, Emergency responders alert medical staff to begin preparation for arrival. Medical staff can then arrange medical equipment, specific treatment rooms or labs, and specialists and staff are brought together, all before the patient arrives.
“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 Paula Porter, OSF Neuroscience Service Line Leader. “Calling 9-1-1 can be the difference between life and death. Quick treatment can help limit damage to the brain or heart.”
For more information, or to learn more about “Don’t Drive, Call 9-1-1,” please visit www.osfstjoseph.org/911.