Research Medical Center
August 27, 2013

It was a typical Midwestern hot summer morning on August 6 and business as usual at Joe’s 63rd Street Barbershop in Kansas City, Missouri.  Customers were lining up to get their hair cut at the old-fashioned, full-service barbershop, chatting about the Kansas City Royals winning streak, when suddenly one of the regulars showed signs of physical distress.

Another customer, recognizing the barbershop patron’s symptoms as those of a potential heart attack, acted quickly and called 9-1-1 from his cellphone.  Within minutes an ambulance and paramedics arrived on the scene and went into action.  The patient was transported to nearby Research Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center for treatment.

Everything went smoothly in getting the patient immediate medical care. The volunteer was familiar with early heart attack care (EHAC) and the importance of calling 9-1-1 for emergency first responders to provide on-the-spot assistance and getting the victim to a hospital.

However, the “patient” and “volunteer” at Joe’s 63rd Street Barbershop on the morning of August 6 were volunteers in Research Medical Center’s innovative community STEMI drill.  The hospital’s Accredited Chest Pain Center partnered with the Kansas City Fire Department and barbershop owner Joe Slatten to stage a community EHAC education event.

Lori Poteet, RN, BSN, chest pain coordinator at Research Medical Center, says the successful drill helped raise awareness and offered a valuable teaching moment on the critical recognition of heart attack symptoms—and what to do when they strike.

“Heart attack is the number one killer of the adult population in the United States,” says Poteet.  “And in more than half of the cases, the heart attack can be prevented with early treatment and before damage to the heart can occur.  Many people are unaware that early symptoms of heart attack don’t necessarily knock a victim to the ground with a cardiac arrest or cause severe chest pain.”r colleagues at Research Medical Center—part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare provider—developed the drill to help educate the community about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack with the intention of raising awareness and providing education.

 “We believe by educating the community on heart attack symptoms, we can drastically reduce the number of deaths caused by heart attacks,” says Poteet.

Research Medical Center hopes to repeat the public drill annually.

“The exercise not only benefits the public, it helps all of us in healthcare remember the tasks and priorities and what it takes to deliver exemplary patient care,” notes Poteet.