MI? Call 911 for the Ambulance

Why wouldn’t you call 911 and get emergency medical services to send an ambulance?

Perhaps you didn’t know the number until now, but we’ve fixed that right? 911! And if you’re not local to us, check out this list of world-wide numbers for emergency medical services. OK, so if you suspect an MI (heart attack) you now know what number to call to reach emergency medical services and get the ambulance, make sure you do it. Recent research in the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that people aren’t calling when they need to!

Not calling 911: The research


Yes really. They looked at nearly 500 people with either unstable angina or who were actually having a heart attack (MI). Both of these are covered in First Aid training and it’s difficult to tell them apart – in fact we tell you to assume the worst and call emergency medical services. So what about these 500 patients? Well, 23% of them called 911. That’s less than a quarter of people having a heart problem calling the ambulance! And while it’s hard for me to type these words – women were more than twice as likely to call an ambulance if they were having an MI.

Now the research mainly focused on the gender differences in calling 911 during an MI. That’s not too important to us as a first aider, we’re all taught to call. What is important is making sure you recognise the signs and symptoms of an MI so that you do call 911 when appropriate and get the ambulance on the way. Let’s recap your training.

Signs & Symptoms of an MI

Remember symptoms of an MI often come on over a period of time. Don’t expect the person to have all symptoms suddenly and all together

  • Chest pain (tightness, squeezing, etc.) – commonest symptom
  • Short of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Rapid, possibly weak pulse
  • Pale, sweaty, clammy
  • Dizzy
  • Nauseated or vomiting

There may also be a history of heart problems or a previous MI

What to do

  • Call 911, get an ambulance or emergency medical services!!Diagram of the human heart (cropped)
  • Check for a history of heart problems.
  • Help them with any medication they have.
  • Help them to rest in a comfortable position
  • Ensure there’s free flow of air (loosen neck-ties, open windows in stuffy offices, etc.)
  • If they are not seriously allergic to it, give ASA/Aspirin to be sucked or chewed.
  • Give oxygen if you are trained to.

Still not sure you could recognise an MI or know what to do – then get some training!


About Tony Howarth

Tony is a First Aid & CPR Instructor Trainer with Sea 2 Sky Safety Training Services and the company founder. Tony started with the British Red Cross in 1994. Has acted as first aid attendant for hundreds of events & treated many hundreds of people as a result. He is experienced in training a wide range of courses. He previously worked as an ambulance attendant with the British Red Cross. He is now in BC as a first aid instructor, and an instructor trainer (one who trains others to become instructors) Finally, Tony works at Squamish General Hospital as the pharmacist manager when not busy training safety
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One Response to MI? Call 911 for the Ambulance

  1. Pingback: Cheap CPR and First Aid courses available, for a price | Safety un-Limited

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