Make the Right Call; dial 9-1-1

05/21/2007

Effort also recognizes, honors area emergency medical services teams

GREEN BAY - Calling 9-1-1 for medical emergencies may seem clear if it's a catastrophic event, but when it's less clear - like the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack - many people aren't sure if they should dial 9-1-1. The decision to make that call at the onset of symptoms can have a dramatic effect on a person's recovery or their survival.

That's why today at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers and their healthcare partner Bellin Health, announced the "Make the Right Call" campaign for Northeast Wisconsin.

"This is National Emergency Medical Services Week," explained Pepper Burruss, head athletic trainer for the Green Bay Packers. He is also EMS certified. "So, we thought it was 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."

Captain Mark Schroeder, of the Green Bay Fire Department, 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 are ticking away without you getting the help you need." Schroeder explained that when you call 9-1-1, someone trained in emergency situations will respond and help you. "They gather basic medical information that is relayed to us while we're heading out in the ambulance."

It's all about teamwork. The information gathered helps EMS workers prepare for what they might encounter, enabling them to quickly help the patient while transporting them to a hospital or clinic. The ambulance crews are also in constant contact with physicians at the medical facility, as the team coordinates testing and prepares for additional care that's needed.

Cardiologist Rick Timmons, M.D., said the team approach is invaluable.

"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.

"So every minute counts. And if you drive yourself to the hospital, you're losing precious minutes." said Timmons. "All of us work together, from the 9-1-1 dispatcher, to the EMS personnel on the ambulance, to the physicians at the hospital. By making use of those critical first minutes and hours, the outcomes are often improved."

The "Make the Right Call" effort will not only educate the public, it will also engage the public.

"We are hoping the public, whether it's individuals, businesses or organizations, will not just think about what we're saying, but will also help us spread the word," said Andrea Werner, director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Bellin Health.

"In addition, we are asking the public to share their EMS stories as part of this campaign. We believe this will help increase awareness and ultimately lead to better outcomes for those with medical emergencies."

Starting today, Northeast Wisconsin residents are being asked to share their experiences with 9-1-1 and EMS workers by submitting their stories.

"It can be personal stories or stories involving family or friends," explained Werner. "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:

As other organizations and businesses join the effort, it's anticipated additional submission form locations will be added. The deadline for story submissions is August 1, 2007.  

What will happen with the stories collected?

"A group of medical personnel, including EMS workers, will select a cross section of stories which truly showcase EMS workers while we continue to promote the use of 9-1-1," said Werner.

The campaign will include: Sharing the stories with the media; online promotion; the development of a special EMS tribute display to be located at Lambeau Field this fall; and recognition of EMS workers at a Green Bay Packers game this fall.

"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." Burruss said.

"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," added Werner.