By Letter to the Editor on September 3, 2020.
When I was recently discharged from the Foothills Medical Centre Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, I promised the cardiology team that I would write you about the life-saving treatment I was lucky enough to receive.
On the early morning of March 24, a restless night of an aching left arm self-diagnosed as arthritis pain in this 76-year-old body along with feeling over nauseous now became a fear of COVID-19. The increasing pressure on my chest with crushing-like blows caused me to call my wife and give her the dreaded message to call 911. She quickly did and, upon the advice of the dispatcher, gave me an aspirin to chew.
The Lethbridge Fire Department EMS arrived within minutes. Initial COVID-19 protocol had to be altered as the paramedics quickly determined I was having a serious heart attack. With initial emergency treatment, they rushed me to the Chinook Regional Hospital Emergency as the prepared me for immediate transfer to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. With life-saving treatment plans and the addition of an extra paramedic, the quick action of the Lethbridge Fire Department paramedics had me on my way to Calgary.
We arrived at the Foothills Cardiac Intensive Care Unit just in time as what I thought was a dizzy spell turned out to be several minutes of life-saving procedures and a quick transfer to the Angio Unit where a long metal stent was inserted within my heart as other arteries were identified as also needing priority treatment. Original plans for me to stay at the Foothills for 30 days prior to open-heart bypass surgery was revised due to the recent pandemic crisis, returning to Calgary Foothills Hospital on April 28 for double bypass surgery.
EMS dispatch in my city of Lethbridge gave me a chance at life as minutes determined the reality of life or death. I live on an odd street address that a far-away dispatch call centre might need time to locate and direct local emergency service. This concern includes possible service that someday a paramedic team in Calgary looks for their victim in Shawnessy when over 100 miles south a family in Shaughnessy waits for emergency 911 service who haven’t yet been called. Hopefully the delay doesn’t cost a life.
Please don’t let your bean counters destroy a proven life-saving system of emergency dispatch throughout our province.