Retired Truck Driver and STEMI Heart Attack Patient
“They were the best … Because they got to me so fast, my heart wasn’t damaged.”
First Responders' Fast Action Saved Man's Life and Heart
A streamlined approach for treating patients experiencing cardiac emergencies not only saves heart muscle, it saves lives.
Paramedics from MidMichigan Medical Center–Emergency Medical Services, along with the Emergency Department and Cardiac Catheterization teams at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland, have implemented a special heart attack alert program designed to rapidly identify patients who are suffering from ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).
One of those patients is Philip Therrian of Midland. On January 21, Philip was relaxing at the home he shares with his better half, Mae Brewster, when he started feeling pain in his chest. “It came on suddenly and kept getting worse,” Philip said. “Pain was going across my chest and down my arms.”
“I was asking him questions like ‘Is it in your chest? Is it in your jaw?’ After a few minutes, I just decided to call for help,” Mae said. “I barely got off the phone when we heard the sirens.”
The EMS team was with Philip within six minutes of May’s initial 9-1-1 call. “They were the nicest bunch of guys and they knew exactly what to do,” Philip said. “As they hooked me up to a monitor, one of them asked ‘Does it feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest?’ That was exactly what it felt like. By that time the pain had moved into my jaw.”
Paramedics quickly determined that Philip had STEMI and set in motion a streamlined course of action to save his life. The paramedics alerted the Emergency Department staff and set off for MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. Upon arrival, Philip was taken directly to the Cardiac Cath Lab. A few minutes later, Interventional Cardiologist Maged Rizk, M.D., arrived and began the procedure that cleared Philip’s blocked artery and restored blood flow to his heart.
In just over one hour, Philip was diagnosed, transported to the Medical Center, and had undergone the procedure that saved his life.
“They were the best,” Philip said of the first responders who came to his aid. “They couldn’t have been any better. Because they got to me so fast, my heart wasn’t damaged.”
“Speed is what saved him,” Mae said. “He still has some blockage, and needs more help, but he’s here today because the EMS men were so good.”
Philip, who turned 83 in March, had never had heart issues before. Lean, easy-going and active, he walks almost daily. In fact, he met Mae at the Midland Community Center 20 years ago, where he swam laps and she taught water exercise class for people with arthritis. “We’ve been together ever since,” Mae said. “We take care of each other.”
“She took care of me this time for sure,” Philip added. “If it wasn’t for her, I might not be here. If she hadn’t called, I would have been in trouble.”
Mae encourages other people to follow her example. “Don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t wait.”
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.