Maynard Coulson - Saginaw, MI
"I was very impressed with the whole operation. The doctors and nurses were really great and did their best to put us all at ease."
MidMichigan's STEMI Alert Program: Saving Lives by Saving Time
On an ordinary Thursday night, 67 year-old Maynard Coulson was, as usual, at Merrill Wesleyan Church. A part of the praise team, he a few other members of the congregation were getting ready to rehearse for Sunday morning services. "I felt a little pain in my chest after moving a speaker and started sweating but I brushed it off and we started practicing," he said.
But the pain got a lot worse. His niece, Sarah, noticed he didn't look right and started asking questions. "When I told her the pain was in the center of my chest, she called 911 and told them she thought I was having a heart attack."
"It took a while for the ambulance to get there and they had me chew a few baby aspirins while we waited," Maynard said. "When they got there, they didn't waste any time. They immediately hooked me up and were relaying numbers and results within minutes. Everything worked just like it was supposed to."
The paramedics had immediately checked Maynard's vital signs and performed a 12-lead ECG which revealed that he was having an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack.
In STEMI patients, the coronary artery is completely blocked off by a blood clot. As a result of this blockage, all of the heart muscle being supplied by the affected artery starts to die.
Upon determining the severity of the situation, the paramedics followed a streamlined process referred to as MidMichigan's STEMI Alert Program. It is designed to rapidly identify patients who are suffering from a STEMI heart attack so treatment can be expedited upon arrival at the Medical Center.
It was a rough ride to MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland, Maynard said. "I was in a lot of pain but I could hear them talking. I didn't know anything about the STEMI program, but when we got to the hospital we didn't go the ER, we went around by the maternity entrance and there was a cath team waiting. I went from the ambulance to the gurney and they started working."
Interventional Cardiologist Michael Lauer, M.D. led the team that cared for Maynard. "When they started, my pain was 9½ out of 10. They found one plugged artery and tried a balloon angioplasty but it collapsed when they pulled it out. Then they put in a stent and I remember feeling the pain go away."
While the immediate threat was taken care of, three other arteries needed repair. "I ended up with three bypasses in addition to the stent," Maynard said. "I had that surgery on a Friday and was discharged the following Wednesday."
Maynard said he had not been a patient in a hospital since 1965. "I was very impressed with the whole operation," he said. "The doctors and nurses were really great and did their best to put us all at ease. They are just top notch people."
Looking back, Maynard said he had experienced some symptoms but didn't connect them to his heart health. "I didn't have as much ambition as usual," he said. "I was content to just relax after dinner and that's not like me." He had also experienced angina and though it was indigestion. "I noticed that if I exerted myself after eating, the pain would start." In fact, just one month before his heart attack, he had an acute attack of angina which he again attributed to stomach issues.
He admits the heart attack caught him by surprise. "I didn't think I had risk factors," Maynard said. "I don't drink or smoke. Both my parents had bypass surgery, but they were older. My son had problems at age 37 and ended up with two stents." For years, Maynard had also taken medications to lower cholesterol and manage hypertension.
Today, Maynard feels healthy and blessed. "It was definitely a reality check," he said. "Don't take anything for granted. If you have issues, look into it. I had an appointment set up with my doctor and I was going to ask him about pain after eating; I should have called him months ago. If you have problems, don't blow them off. If you notice something is different, talk to your doctor."
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.