Gerald Llewelyn faked a heart attack at the Tooele Senior Center on Wednesday morning, acting as though he had slight chest pressure and wasn’t feeling well.
The center’s director Bella Collovich immediately called 911 to report that a man was experiencing chest pain. Paramedics arrived soon to treat Llewelyn while he lay flat on the center’s dining room floor. He was then taken to the emergency room at Mountain West Medical Center for treatment.
It was all part of a drill exercise conducted by MWMC to continue its status as an accredited Chest Pain Center with the Society for Cardiovascular Patient Care.
“The drill not only helps with our accreditation, but it gives us an opportunity to educate the community on early heart attack symptoms,” said Becky Trigg, public information officer for the hospital.
“Our two main messages to the public are that they should not delay having chest pain checked, and people should always call 911,” Trigg said.
Registered nurse Pamela Giles, who was in charge of the drill, said the exercise is needed every year to maintain the accreditation.
“We’ve conducted it at various locations throughout the years,” she said. The hospital has been an accredited Chest Pain Center since 2013.
The 911 call could be heard via a loudspeaker at the senior center. The caller was able to relay information to the 911 operator, who asked several questions about the condition of Llewelyn: Is he awake, breathing, alert, changing color, have a pulse?
The 911 operator notified the caller that paramedics were on their way, and asked more questions: Has he had a heart attack before? What medications has he taken in the last 12 hours?
“People should never be afraid to call 911,” Giles said.
Trigg said: “By calling 911, response time is within minutes. Fluids and treatment may begin immediately as soon as the ambulance arrives. Constant communication with the hospital occurs, which allows for pre-arranging tests and a room ahead of time and implementing as soon as the patient arrives.
“By arriving in an ambulance, there is no wait time with check-in and you have not wasted precious time that could minimize long-term effects or even life,” Trigg added.
Quick action is required once the ambulance reaches the ER.
“Within the first 5-10 minutes upon arrival by ambulance at the ER, an EKG is done as part of diagnosing if the patient is having an actual heart attack, along with checking troponin levels through a blood test,” said MWMC Emergency Room Director Scott Rounds. He said troponin is a heart-muscle enzyme.
“During the drill, the ER was able to complete these two procedures in about five minutes,” Rounds said. To maintain accreditation, these activities must be completed in less than 10 minutes, he said.
Rounds said statistics at MWMC show that only 40 percent of people with chest pain call 911. Most drive or get someone to drive them to the hospital.
“This is dangerous,” he said.
The classic symptoms of heart attack include a feeling of extreme pressure on the chest and chest pain, including a squeezing or full sensation. This can be accompanied by pain in one or both arms, jaw, back, stomach, or neck.
Other symptoms of heart attack include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and a feeling of breaking out in a cold sweat,” according to MedicineNet.com.