Effort encourages use of 9-1-1


“Make the Right Call” campaign will also recognize EMS workers

GREEN BAY – It can mean the difference between life and death.  Calling 9-1-1 for medical emergencies may seem clear if it’s a catastrophic event.  But, when it’s less clear, like when the less obvious symptoms of a stroke or heart attack occur, many people aren’t sure if they should call 9-1-1.  However, the decision to make that call at the onset of symptoms can have a dramatic effect on a person’s recovery or survival.

That’s why Bellin Health and the Green Bay Packers are working together to promote a “Make the Right Call” campaign for Northeast Wisconsin.  “National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week is May 16 to May 22,” explained Andrea Werner, vice president of Bellin Health Heart and Vascular Center. “This is the perfect time to launch an effort to raise awareness about the importance of using 9-1-1.  And, while doing that, we also want to recognize the outstanding work of the emergency medical personnel who respond to those calls.”

Dr. Tim Tanke, cardiologist with Cardiology Associates of Green Bay said it’s surprising how many people having medical emergencies choose to drive themselves, or have someone else drive them, to a medical facility.  “It’s not a good idea,” he said.  “In fact, it can be deadly because precious minutes tick away without you getting the help you need.” 

Tanke explained that by calling 9-1-1, the caller is connected with someone trained in emergency situations who can assess the situation and provide direction.  “The 9-1-1 dispatchers gather basic medical information that is relayed to EMS personnel while they’re heading out in the ambulance so they are prepared and ready for the specific situation,” he added.

“EMS teams are an extension of the hospital,” said Paul Casey, M.D., medical director, Emergency Services at Bellin Health. “They initiate treatment at the scene and continue during transport.  During the transport process, ambulance crews are in contact with personnel at the medical facility, as the team coordinates treatment and prepares for additional care that’s needed once the patient reaches the hospital.”

Tanke said the team approach is invaluable.  “Every minute counts,” said Tanke. “It’s been proven that if you’re having a stroke, and we can administer the appropriate medications to you within three hours, the treatment can significantly reduce the risk for permanent damage. The same is true if you’re having a heart attack. If blood flow is restored within the first hour of a heart attack, the chances are good that there will be little or no damage to the heart muscle.  After that, deterioration sets in fast. By making use of those critical first minutes and hours, the outcomes are often improved.”
“In addition to encouraging the use of 9-1-1 for medical emergencies, we are asking the public to share their EMS stories as part of this campaign,” explained Werner. “It can be personal stories or stories involving family or friends, and it doesn’t matter where in Northeast Wisconsin that these situations occurred or which EMS provider or medical facility they used. The bottom line is that these stories will reinforce the need to use 9-1-1 for medical emergencies.” 

“Make the Right Call” submission forms can be found:

• At the Lambeau Field Atrium guest relations desk
• Online at www.bellin.org
• At all Bellin clinics and facilities

The campaign will include:

• Sharing the stories with the media
• The development of a special EMS exhibit highlighting the power of calling 9-1-1 that will be located at Lambeau Field this fall
• Online promotion
• Recognition of EMS workers at a Green Bay Packers game this fall 

The deadline for story submissions is July 9, 2010.

“We know that EMS workers aren’t often recognized for their efforts, but we feel they should be acknowledged for the outstanding community service they provide,” added Werner.  “Our hope is to involve and educate the public, improve medical outcomes and give some much deserved recognition to all EMS workers in Northeast Wisconsin.”