Why wouldn’t you call 911 and get emergency medical services to send an ambulance?
Perhaps you didn’t know the number until now, but we’ve fixed that right? 911! And if you’re not local to us, check out this list of world-wide numbers for emergency medical services. OK, so if you suspect an MI (heart attack) you now know what number to call to reach emergency medical services and get the ambulance, make sure you do it. Recent research in the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that people aren’t calling when they need to!

Not calling 911: The research

Yes really. They looked at nearly 500 people with either unstable angina or who were actually having a heart attack (MI). Both of these are covered in First Aid training and it’s difficult to tell them apart – in fact we tell you to assume the worst and call emergency medical services. So what about these 500 patients? Well, 23% of them called 911. That’s less than a quarter of people having a heart problem calling the ambulance! And while it’s hard for me to type these words – women were more than twice as likely to call an ambulance if they were having an MI.
Now the research mainly focused on the gender differences in calling 911 during an MI. That’s not too important to us as a first aider, we’re all taught to call. What is important is making sure you recognise the signs and symptoms of an MI so that you do call 911 when appropriate and get the ambulance on the way. Let’s recap your training.

Signs & Symptoms of an MI

Remember symptoms of an MI often come on over a period of time. Don’t expect the person to have all symptoms suddenly and all together

  • Chest pain (tightness, squeezing, etc.) – commonest symptom
  • Short of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Rapid, possibly weak pulse
  • Pale, sweaty, clammy
  • Dizzy
  • Nauseated or vomiting

There may also be a history of heart problems or a previous MI

What to do

  • Call 911, get an ambulance or emergency medical services!!Diagram of the human heart (cropped)
  • Check for a history of heart problems.
  • Help them with any medication they have.
  • Help them to rest in a comfortable position
  • Ensure there’s free flow of air (loosen neck-ties, open windows in stuffy offices, etc.)
  • If they are not seriously allergic to it, give ASA/Aspirin to be sucked or chewed.
  • Give oxygen if you are trained to.

Still not sure you could recognise an MI or know what to do – then get some training!