It's often said that time is money. Well when it comes to the heart, time is muscle. For medical professionals it takes plenty of practice to give quality care as quick as possible. What you are about to see is what's called a STEMI Drill, a test of speed and efficiency in dealing with heart attacks.
"Alright let's go! Lets start jogging in place." Says the trainer at Kosama Complete Body Transformations.
Workouts and Cardio classes are situations where you'd expect to see an elevated heart rate and breaking into a good sweat. But Dan Marnach's workout is about to become something else, something potentially deadly.
Trainer: Do you need to go to the hospital?
Dan: No, I'll be ok.
Trainer: No, I'm going to call 911, go ahead and lay down.
Trainer Jake Vaughan sees a problem and calls for an ambulance, while other gym members do their best to help Dan. With an ambulance en route, Jake gets instructions from 911 dispatch.
"He's laying down right now he's still feeling a lot of pain in his chest, help is on the way Dan!" Said Vaughan.
EMT: Dan my name is Devon, I'm a paramedic with the ambulance what's going on today?
Dan: I'm having trouble catching my breath.
The paramedics take Dan through several questions and start monitoring his heart rhythm. An IV is placed and aspirin is given to help ease the pain. In a matter of minutes the EMT's have all they need to make the next move.
"Dan it looks like you may be having a heart attack we're going to go to the heart hospital and get you taken care of." Said the EMT.
Speed is critical and getting Dan into a doctor's hands becomes all the more important. Once inside the ambulance, a quick call rallies the ER staff back at the hospital.
"I'm coming in with a 52-year-old male STEMI patient, chief complaint of chest pain while he was working out and shortness of breath." said the EMT.
It's a dash to the ER where Dan is met by a crew of doctors and nurses.
"Good morning sir my name is Dr. Paa, I'm one of the cardiologists here, how are you doing? what time did your pain start sir?" Asked Dr. Christopher Paa.
When a patient is admitted with heart problems the first call is for an EKG or electrocardiogram. When that test pinpoints Dan's irregular heartbeat, Dr. Paa has his diagnosis.
"Sir it looks like you're having a heart attack and so what we're going to do is take you over to the catheterization laboratory and we're going to put a catheter in a blood vessel in your body and direct it up to your heart to take some pictures of the blood vessels of the heart, find one that's blocked and we're going to fix it okay?" Said Dr. Paa.
In a real emergency, Dan would then be taken to the cath lab and wake up feeling much better. This was just a drill, no one was really in danger, but like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
"So if we can identify places within our process that can be streamlined and improved I think that is going to translate into patients being taken care of quicker and more effectively." said Dr. Paa.
During a heart attack, time equals muscle meaning the quicker a blockage is relieved, the less muscle is damaged. The gold standard for the time it takes a patient to get from the door to getting a blockage cleared is 90 minutes. The Avera Heart Hospital's average time is just 55 minutes.
Drills like this are not just for medical professionals, for Dan and the staff at Kosama it was also a learning experience.
"I think we should all step back and say hey if we are in trouble and we think we might be having a heart attack, don't hesitate. Call 911." Said Marnach.
"We made the call and that's the key is to make the call, get people here in a fast response time and to take care the individual that's hurting." Said Joshua Wendling, owner of Kosama.
Dan has a family history of heart disease but has worked hard to stay as healthy as possible. This lesson is just extra motivation.
"Never been in an ambulance before, hopefully never again." Said Marnach.
Again, the goal is to get heart attack patients treated in 90 minutes or less. The official time for this drill was just 27 minutes. For more information about heart attacks just call 877-AT-AVERA.