Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Making The Right Call

In cases like heart attacks, dialing 9-1-1 could save your life

Submitted by Phill Bruce, BC Ambulance Service, Chilliwack/Voice file photos


man feels unwell and is short of breath. He calls 9-1-1 and later learns he had a heart attack. Just days later, he is discharged with only minimal damage to his heart. His decision to call 9-1-1 saved his life.


B.C. Ambulance Service is reminding people that not all people experience heart attacks in the same way – and many don’t know they are having one until it is too late.

Chest pain is often the primary symptom of heart attack, but other secret signs are shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, heart palpitations, tiredness and light-headedness.

Being aware of the symptoms and calling 911 if a heart attack is suspected can greatly improve survival rates.

“A heart attack occurs when blockages in arteries restrict the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart," said Phill Bruce, BC Ambulance Services Chilliwack paramedic.

Chilliwack paramedic Phill Bruce (left) knows what he's talking about when it comes to emergency situations.

“As blood flow stops, the heart cells start to die and cannot regenerate like other parts of the body.

In these situations, it’s essential to save time and heart muscle," explained Bruce in a release Tuesday. "Getting a patient to the right care at the right time can be a matter of life and death."

So what should you do to if you suspect a heart attack?



•    Call 911 – BC Ambulance call takers, and paramedics can begin diagnosis and treatment right away.
•    Be aware of the symptoms of heart attack – not all patients experience the same symptoms.


•    Worry about false alarms – let paramedics and doctors make the call.
•    Drive yourself to hospital – this could slow your access to treatment and put others at risk if your condition worsens.

If you are having a heart attack BC Ambulance will launch a helicopter to your location so that you will spend a minimal amount of time before getting specialized care at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster.


Bruce says that as a paramedic he's  seen too many cases where patients have waited too long to call 911.


Paramedics are specially trained and have access to equipment that allows us to diagnose a heart attack and begin treatment right at the patient’s side,” explains Bruce. "Before, and upon are arrival  at hospital, vital information is relayed to cardiologist specialist, so they have a better idea where to start looking for blocked arteries, and can treat patients faster.”

Remember time is muscle, delaying treatment is not an option.


© Copyright (c) 2009-2014 The Valley Voice