Dial 999 For Chest Pain

The British Heart Foundation, BHF, are launching a new campaign today “Doubt Kills” to encourage people to call 999 when they first experience chest pain – and quite right too. The BBC have an article on it ‘British reserve cosing lives’ How often do we get called to patients who’ve had central chest pain for “an hour or so” and not sought help?
Researchers for the BHF say

Evidence shows that people experiencing heart attack symptoms wait an average of 90 minutes before an ambulance is called.

I once read a a report from the US that showed that people there waited on average 45 minutes before calling for help and then the call was usually to their GP.

The BHF have an excellent animation about what happens inside your heart when you suffer a heart attack. However, I do take issue with them on one thing; they’re the BRITISH Heart Foundation so what’s with the Yank ambulance guys? A British one not good enough?

I’m a full supporter of this campaign. The sooner I get to patients the sooner we can start sorting out the problems. I’ve got morphine for the pain; aspirin (an antiplatlet) to stop the clot getting bigger; GTN to open up the coronary arteries and get more blood flowing and finally, tenecteplase for thrombolysis – to bust that clot! In London they even get you to a primary cardiac centre for an angioplasty – even better (I hope to be posting about thrombolysis vs PCI very soon).

However, and isn’t there always a little ‘but’ with these things. Ambulance staff can only help you if we actually get sent and a big white or yellow van with the blue lights arrives. Yes we’re back to that old chestnut of the 8 minute response time. When I have my heart attack and dial 999 I want a paramedic and a big ‘all singing and dancing’ ambulance. I don’t want a first responder. I don’t want a double EMT crew with no para back up and I don’t want just an RRV with no amblance in sight. I want the works and I want to be taken to the hospital ASAP.

We can now expect an increase in calls to ambulance control – no problem there, Nee Naw can handle that. These calls should (if AMPDS can get its act together) be classified as Category A but please, please, please lets send the appropriate response and get these patients on the road to recovery (unintentional pun) as fast as possible. I don’t want to be waiting 45 minutes for my ambulance back up to arrive and I don’t want the assistance of a (very willing I’m sure) first responder.

Got chest pain? Call me now on 999

P.S. anecdotally I’d say that there’s a good correlation between the severity of the chest pain and the amount the patient protests “I feel I’m wasting your time” or “I feel like a fraud” No the fraud who’s wasting my time is the twerp with the cut finger.

P.P.S. Is it just me or does the bloke in the photo look like Dustin Hoffman?


4 Responses to Dial 999 For Chest Pain

  1. ecparamedic says:

    I thought he looked more like Tom Conti…………….

    Waited an hour the other day to backed up to a cardiac chest pain……..


  2. Merys Jones says:

    My mother actually rang me up last night and asked me what the symptoms of a heart attack were. I even went to the ‘go to my car and get some aspirin from the glove compartment’ but would she listen? Would she hell!

    Turns out to be a pulled muscle (I hope), but do parents ever listen to their (slightly) medically educated children? If you don’t want my advice then don’t ask for it!

  3. Wanda says:

    When I saw that poster it rather reminded me of what an asthma attack feels like.

  4. E says:

    what number do you dial for a pizza?

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