Retired Police Officer and STEMI Heart Attack Patient
“They bypassed the ER and went directly to the Cath Lab where the doctor and his team were waiting for me. That’s what saved my life.”
Expedited Treatment Saved His Heart and His Life
Robert Thrush of Gladwin had his first heart attack in 1990 and another in 1995, so one morning in September when he began feeling heaviness in his chest, the retired police officer didn’t waste time wondering what to do.
“It dawned on me I was having a heart attack,” Robert said. “I immediately called 911.”
Robert was having one of the most serious types of heart attack. A blood clot was completely blocking one of his coronary arteries, and all the heart muscle supplied by the artery was starting to die. Time was critical.
Fortunately, paramedics from MidMichigan Medical Center–Emergency Medical Services (EMS), along with the Emergency Department (ER) and Cardiac Catheterization teams at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland have implemented a special heart attack alert program. This program is designed to rapidly identify patients like Robert who are suffering from ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the most serious type of heart attack.
Seven minutes after the 911 call, Gladwin’s MidMichigan Medical Center EMS unit arrived at his house. Thanks to their specialized training in STEMI recognition, the paramedics were able to quickly identify Robert’s condition and set in motion a streamlined course of action to save his life. Five minutes after arrival, the paramedics had already alerted ER staff, and set off for MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland, the closest Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Center. This expedited treatment was possible as a result of new state protocol, championed by MidMichigan Medical Center EMS, which allows paramedics to bypass the closest ER and take STEMI patients directly to the Cardiac Cath Lab at the nearest PCI Center.
On the way to the Medical Center, the paramedics were in constant communications with the doctors. “The guys were on top of things. Instead of having to wait once I got to the hospital, they bypassed the ER and didn’t mess around with any paperwork,” Robert said. “They got me right in for the procedure to open my artery. I went directly to the Cath Lab where the doctor and his team were waiting for me. That’s what saved my life.”
Within just 62 minutes after Robert’s 911 call, Interventional Cardiologist Ram Pai, M.D., and his team restored blood flow to Robert’s blocked artery. Using a procedure called PCI, Dr. Pai inserted a catheter into Robert’s artery to remove the blood clot and then used a balloon catheter to expand the artery so it could maintain the blood flow to his heart.
“The doctors told me that when I arrived at the hospital, I was already turning blue,” Robert said. “For one of my other heart attacks, I was taken to one hospital and then they airlifted me to another. Dr. Pai said they would not have had time to do that in this case. If they hadn’t gotten me in there as quick as they did, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Robert praised the care he received as a patient at the Medical Center, where he spent three days in one of the new private patient rooms. “The nurses were at my side almost 24/7. If I had a problem, they were right there to see that it was taken care of.”
Family members wanted to be with Robert every day he was in the hospital, and they were glad the Medical Center was close to home. “It was handy for us to have him only about 30 miles away,” said his dad, Gerald Scoby. “It would have been difficult to visit if we’d had to rent a motel room.”
With recovery under way, Robert can look forward to getting back to everyday life, things like mowing the yard, working in the garage and deer hunting. His third heart attack was a close call, but his team had the processes in place to expedite treatment. “Because they did it the way they did,” he said. “I’m here to tell the story.”
With state protocols now in place, MidMichigan Health’s STEMI Alert Program is approved for up to a 90-minute patient transport time to MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. To ensure the overall success of the program, MidMichigan Medical Center EMS actively collaborates with other area EMS providers to provide ongoing training and support. These include Houghton Lake EMS, Denton Township Ambulance Service, Mobile Medical Response (MMR) and Bay Medical EMS. Those interested in more information on MidMichigan’s EMS Heart Attack Alert Program may visit www.midmichigan.org/stemi.