OSF Saint James - John W. Albrecht Medical Center

Pontiac, Illinois

Don't Drive - Call 9-1-1.

Call 9-1-1 Dialing 9-1-1 is a call you never want to make; however, when it comes to heart attacks and strokes, every second counts. People commonly have several reasons for not calling 9-1-1. They may not want to bother first responders, they are close enough to drive themselves to a hospital, or may not think they need immediate medical attention, and the list goes on.

But, 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. Quick treatment can help limit damage to the brain or heart and increase the chance of a full recovery.

Your Care Begins with a Call

Your care truly does begin with a call. It is imperative to call 9-1-1 when you or a loved one are experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms.

When the call is made, an emergency medical dispatcher will provide pre-arrival instructions until the first responders arrive and gather information and symptoms. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are also trained with lifesaving techniques they can use if needed.

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. Nationally and locally, the average time from arrival to treatment is significantly reduced by ambulance.

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, paramedics alert medical staff to begin preparation for arrival, thus saving time.

They will arrange medical equipment, specific treatment rooms or labs, and specialists and staff are brought together. If someone drives on their own, the hospital has no prior information on the patient, unlike arriving by ambulance.

Hospital staff will then need to assess the patient and determine if a heart attack or stroke is present, before treatment can begin. Another danger of driving yourself: you place yourself and others at risk if you were to lose consciousness.

Your Care Begins with a Call

Your care truly does begin with a call. It is imperative to call 9-1-1 when you or a loved one are experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms.

When the call is made, an emergency medical dispatcher will provide pre-arrival instructions until the first responders arrive and gather information and symptoms. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are also trained with lifesaving techniques they can use if needed.

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. Nationally and locally, the average time from arrival to treatment is significantly reduced by ambulance.

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, paramedics alert medical staff to begin preparation for arrival, thus saving time.

They will arrange medical equipment, specific treatment rooms or labs, and specialists and staff are brought together. If someone drives on their own, the hospital has no prior information on the patient, unlike arriving by ambulance.

Hospital staff will then need to assess the patient and determine if a heart attack or stroke is present, before treatment can begin. Another danger of driving yourself: you place yourself and others at risk if you were to lose consciousness.

Therapeutic Hypothermia Treatment

Therapeutic hypothermia treatment, also known as cardiac cooling, can improve a heart attack patient's chances at a full recovery. The therapy is for adults age 18 and older who have been quickly and successfully resuscitated following cardiac arrests. In this situation, they have regained their pulse and blood pressure, but are still unresponsive.

Cooling the body decreases the release of chemicals that cause injury to the brain and the consumption of oxygen by the brain. It also reduces the amount of acid in the brain, allowing neurons to stabilize, thus, helping to preserve brain function.

Know the Symptoms

As vital as it is to call 9-1-1, it is equally important to know the symptoms of heart attacks and strokes . Brain and heart damage can begin within minutes, and the longer it takes for a patient to receive treatment, the more the muscle or brain is damaged.

For more information on the importance of calling 9-1-1 when heart attack or stroke symptoms are present, please call our OSF Cardiovascular Services Leader at (309) 665-5709 or our OSF Neuroscience Leader at (309) 665-4904.