Unlock the door and lie on the floor

More than one night I’ve lain awake wondering how an ambulance would reach me if I needed rescuing.

More than one night I’ve lain awake wondering how an ambulance would reach me if I needed rescuing let’s say from a heart attack and were at least able to dial 911 before collapsing .

Part of the answer came in the Terrace RCMP’s incidents report covering 8 a.m. November 18 to 8 a.m. November 2l.

“Police attended a residence on Mountain Vista Drive to a medic alert alarm. Police had to kick the front door in to gain access to the home. An elderly lady was located and transported to Mills Memorial Hospital via BC Ambulance. The front door was fixed by police.”

The lady was one step up from my situation. She had a medical alert alarm. The alarm gave the police her address, I expect, but when they arrived they were confronted by her locked front door. Sounds like they didn’t dither, kicked in the door, and the lady was taken to hospital forthwith. I trust she was rescued in time so she didn’t suffer any damage.

An additional part of my answer came from an email circulating among friends my age, titled A Nurse’s Heart Attack Experience.

After outlining the unremarkable symptoms of a heart attack in women (often less dramatic than symptoms men experience) principally an  awful sensation  of indigestion, like when you’ve hurriedly grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a gulp of  water, and that hurried bite feels like a golf ball creeping down the esophagus. Only you haven’t eaten anything in five hours or so. After the discomfort began to subside, the next sensation was of little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing  up her spine (in hind-sight, it was probably aorta  spasms), gaining speed as  they continued racing up  and under her breast bone. This  process continued on into her throat  and branched out into both jaws. (Jaw pain from an impending heart attack can wake you from a sound sleep.)

“I’m having a heart attack!” the nurse concluded.

She inched her way to the phone in the next room to dial 911, and told the operator she was having a heart attack.

The operator said she was sending paramedics immediately, asked if the front door was nearby, and if so, instructed the nurse to unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see her when they came in.

The nurse unbolted the door and lay down on the floor as advised … before losing consciousness. Her next conscious moment was arriving at Emergency and being asked if she had taken any medications. In surgery, two side-by-side stents were installed to hold open her  blocked right coronary artery.

After her frightening experience, the nurse advises: Call the  paramedics  if  anything unpleasant  is happening that you have not felt  before. time is of the essence. Better a ‘false alarm’  visitation than to risk your life guessing what it might  be! And if you can, take an aspirin.

Don’t  assume it couldn’t be a heart attack  because you  have a normal cholesterol count. Call the paramedics, not your doctor. Your doctor doesn’t know where you live. At night, you won’t reach him anyway;  during the  day, his assistants or answering service will tell you to call the paramedics.  Doctors don’t  carry  the necessary  equipment  in  their vehicles. Paramedics do, principally oxygen which is what you’ll need immediately to minimize brain damage.

Do not try to drive yourself to the ER. You’ll be a hazard to others on the  road.

These two incidents reassure me an ambulance would succeed in rescuing me  despite a locked front door.

But what if I couldn’t dial 911? How long would it be before someone discovered me lying cold on the floor?

Claudette Sandecki observes the world from her Thornhill home.