In an emergency, saving lives is a team effort, just ask Harold Hodges.
“It was miraculous how everything fit into place from the EMTs to the doctors,” Hodges said. Hodges, 67, was at home in Owensville, peeling apples to make apple butter, when he started feeling ill. “I just told my wife I’ve never had this kind of pain in my chest before and I thought I needed to go to the doctor,” he said.
They went to a medical office in Owensville where the alert staff saw him and immediately called 911. The Owensville Area Ambulance District responded. He was on the ambulance when the paramedics performed an EKG to evaluate his heart’s activity. “No more than when the paper started coming out, the medic said we need to get to the hospital; we need go fast but we need to be safe,” Hodges recalled.
Dr. Bryan Menges answered the ambulance phone at the emergency department at Mercy Hospital Washington. The department receives EKGs from EMS crews by fax or electronically through a computer program depending on the district’s technological capabilities.
“This EKG came by fax and it was evident that Mr. Hodges was having a heart attack,” Dr. Menges said. “We followed protocol and instructed the paramedics to administer the proper medications. We called Mercy’s Rapid Access team, we forwarded the EKG to our cardiologists, which we can also forward to their cell phones if necessary, and the cardiac cath lab was prepped for Mr. Hodges’s arrival.”
In the meantime, paramedics treated Hodges in the ambulance. “They worked on me constantly on the way there,” Hodges said.
EMS brought Hodges to the hospital and straight into the cardiac cath lab. Seventeen minutes later, Mercy interventional cardiologist Dr. Joseph Moore was opening Hodges’s blockages, the source of his heart attack, with three stents. The national goal for the time between entering the hospital and receiving interventional care for a heart attack – or “door to balloon time” – is 90 minutes.
Hodges said he was taken care of every step of the way and was impressed with the services he received that ultimately saved his life.
Owensville Ambulance District Administrator Karen Arnold said, “This particular scenario was a team effort. The crew had the training, equipment and support system from the hospital to help save Mr. Hodges’s life and Mercy has a 24-hour cath lab. It’s extremely beneficial to have a cath lab so close.”
She added, “Chest pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you delay treatment, there is more damage. People need to call 911. The 911 operator will give you medical information on what to do while you’re waiting for the ambulance, and when you live a good distance away, an ambulance can get you the medication you need faster than if you were to drive to the emergency department.”
Dr. Moore said, “Everything that happened in Mr. Hodges’s case happened as it should and illustrates that heart attack care starts at home. If you’re having symptoms, call 911. EMS crews and the hospital will take care of you from there.”