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Celebrate Heart and Stroke Month in Kawartha Lakes

February 9, 2015 - Every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke. Without rapid and appropriate treatment, most cardiac arrests will result in death. Now with the help of new technology, training and education a person experiencing this health emergency has the potential to receive care and definitive treatment much sooner, dramatically improving their outcome.

We would like to share the story of one such success story in the City of Kawartha Lakes. 

After playing hockey on September 26, 2014, local resident Mr. Sandy Morrow went into the dressing room having heaviness in his chest and severe jaw pain.

“Every tooth in my head ached and my chest was tight,” explained Mr. Morrow. After lying down on the bench, the chest tightness and pain in his jaw continued. This is when a fellow team mate and a local Lindsay physician made the decision to call 911.

Within six minutes of placing the 911 call, Advanced Care Paramedic Jason Bibeau and his partner Primary Care Paramedic Brent Dixon arrived on scene.

“When we walked into the dressing room and obtained an electrocardiogram (ECG) there was no doubt in my mind that he needed immediate treatment and transport to Peterborough Regional Health Center for an angiogram and likely an angioplasty,” said Mr. Bibeau. “I told Mr. Morrow that I wasn’t going to sugar coat what we found on the ECG and that he had a blockage in his heart.”

Knowing that “time is muscle” and the longer that definitive treatment is delayed the worse this could be for Mr. Morrow the paramedics chose to transport to Peterborough and continue their care while on the way. 

So exactly what treatment would he receive once he arrived at PRHC?  The Kawartha Lakes Paramedic Service in collaboration with Peterborough Regional Health Center provides what is called a ‘STEMI Bypass protocol’.

Heart attacks occur when an artery that supplies the heart suddenly becomes at least partially blocked by a blood clot, causing some of the heart muscle being supplied by that artery to die.  Heart attacks are divided into two types, according to their severity.  An ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is the more severe type where the coronary artery is completely blocked by the blood clot and is usually recognized by characteristic changes that it produces on the ECG, hence the name.  

If after initial assessment by paramedics a patient is deemed to be experiencing this event, the patient may bypass the local hospital to be transported directly to Peterborough Regional Health Center for the definitive treatment of cardiac catheterization.  The quick recognition and delivery of a STEMI patient to the cardiovascular lab in an expedited fashion, and the procedure that takes place, can result in the rapid restoration of blood flow to the dying heart muscle.  The ultimate treatment goal of a patient experiencing a STEMI event is rapid reperfusion by catheterization procedure.  The paramedic bypass strategy advises that paramedics bypass local hospitals and transport to hospitals that are capable of performing this treatment, even if another hospital is closer.

“This is some of the most valuable training we have ever given our paramedics,” said Derek Brown Deputy Chief of Paramedics in Kawartha Lakes. “There have been similar improvements to the treatment of stroke patients as well. The outcomes are just so much better than they were even five years ago.”

It is crucial to recognize the initial symptoms of a heart attack to improve the overall outcome; Patients may experience chest, jaw, neck and/or shoulder discomfort, perceived as pressure, squeezing, pain, burning or heaviness. The patient may also experience sweating, nausea, shortness of breath or vertigo. 

Anyone experiencing these signs and symptoms should immediately call 911, assume a position of comfort and limit activity. Once the paramedics arrive they will provide care through a series of questions and tests to decide the most appropriate treatment plan.  Not every patient with chest pain indicates a heart attack and not all heart attacks require angioplasty. 

We are able to happy to report that Mr. Morrow is alive and healthy today thanks to the quick recognition of those on scene, as well as the treatment by the paramedics and the cardiac catheterization team at Peterborough Regional Health Center.

“I am so very thankful for their help and care, I don’t know what would have happened without it,” Mr. Morrow expressed warmly.

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For more information please contact:

Keith Kirkpatrick
Paramedic Service Chief

Pictured in photo left to right:

Mr. Sandy Morrow, Primary Care Paramedic Brent Dixon, Advanced Care Paramedic Jason Bibeau and Dr. Warren Ball- Cardiologist at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

Mr. Sandy Morrow, Primary Care Paramedic Brent Dixon, Advanced Care Paramedic Jason Bibeau and Dr. Warren Ball- Cardiologist at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.


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