The rural Casselton farmer, Ryan Radermacher, knew something was wrong. The afternoon was hot and muggy, but not enough to cause heavy sweating. He’d been repairing some sugar beet equipment, preparing for upcoming harvest, nothing too strenuous.On-the-scene steps occurred quickly and efficiently:
“I was wringing wet. Every pore was sweating,” says Ryan, recalling Sept. 1, 2011. “I went into the house to cool off. I was sure I had heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
While his wife, Kim, checked with the ask-a-nurse phone line, another symptom emerged. Ryan felt pressure in his chest and aching in his arms.
“That’s when we knew we needed to call 9-1-1,” says Ryan. “A heart attack is not the time to play Mr. Tough Guy.”
Calling 9-1-1 activated a team that responded with a finely tuned response.
For the next several minutes, the Radermacher farm became the center of activity. A first responder arrived, taking Ryan’s vitals and giving him oxygen. Others followed including Casselton Ambulance, and FM Ambulance from Fargo. All worked together in a well-practiced, coordinated effort to rapidly connect Ryan with the high-level care needed.
“It was a little different being on the patient-side of things,” says Ryan, who served 25 years on the Casselton Fire and Rescue Squad.
- Administration of medication to address chest pain.
- Administration of an ECG to initially assess for a heart attack
- Instant communication of ECG results to PCI center 45 minutes away that determined he was having an acute heart attack
- Preparation for quick transport via LifeFlight ambulance to intercept with the ground ambulance
“Part of me couldn’t believe this was happening,” says Ryan. “I was 45, harvest was a month away. Really? A heart attack? Now?” More about the team care Ryan received
A well-prepared heart team was waiting for Ryan. Advanced tests in the cardiac cath lab showed Ryan had a complete blockage in his right artery. Angioplasty cleared the blockage, and then a stent was inserted to help keep it open.
A two-day hospital stay followed, then several weeks of outpatient Cardiac Rehab.
Today Ryan practices what he learned at Cardiac Rehab: he exercises regularly, takes heart medication as directed, follows a heart-healthy diet and gets his checkups.
“That heart attack put a scare into me,” he says. “Now I really try to take care of my health and I take the time to enjoy life. Family comes first. Going through this experience definitely changed my outlook.”
He reflects on the rapid response that saved his life. “It’s pretty amazing,” he says. “From the EKG in my driveway to the stent in the cath lab, it took just 38 minutes. Because of that, I’m here, I’m feeling great and I have no heart damage. That’s impressive.”
“When your body is telling you something, you better listen,” says Ryan. “Don’t tough it out. Call 911 and get the help you need.”
With no family history of heart disease, a heart attack was the last thing Harvey was expecting when he awoke at 6:30 am that March morning with a pain in the center of his chest that went into his back.
He got up to sit in the recliner, thinking the pain would pass. Fortunately his wife noticing Harvey was pale and perspiring in addition to the increasing pain gave him a baby aspirin and called 9-1-1.
Within minutes the ambulance arrived and immediately performed a 12 Lead ECG. The ECG (heart rhythm) was transmitted it to a hospital 60 miles away then forwarded to the on-call cardiologist who quickly noted that Harvey was having an acute heart attack (STEMI) also known as the widow maker.
Quickly Harvey was loaded into the ambulance and on his way to intercept with the helicopter en route to the PCI Center. Interception took place along interstate.
Upon arrival to the PCI center the he went directly to the cardiac catheterization lab where the cardiologist and surgery staff were waiting to perform a coronary angiography and placed a stent in his blocked artery.
Less than 90 minutes from the time the ambulance arrived at his home – 60 miles away.
Harvey has had a great recovery and took part in the Fargo Marathon 5K walk/run two months later! He feels great and knows that calling 9-1-1 to activate the acute heart attack system of care made all the difference.
Tell us about your experience as a STEMI (acute heart attack) survivor or rescuer.
Your story may inspire others to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and take quick action.
KNOW, ACT AND LIVE!
I woke up that August day feeling 100 percent that morning. The last thing I expected was to being having heart surgery an hour and a half later that day.
While headed to my office at NDSU, I suddenly felt like several people where standing on my chest. Because of the chest pain and nausea, I walked into the athletic trainer’s office. The staff called 911 and got the AED, as my symptoms got worse.
In minutes the ambulance and fire department arrived, performed a 12-lead EKG and notified the hospital that I was having a major heart attack (STEMI).
Thanks to American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline protocol the cardiac surgery team was prepared and waiting for my arrival. I bypassed the emergency room and went directly into surgery.
My right coronary artery was opened in 37 minutes from the time of the EKG performed by the ambulance crew. Amazing. They hadn’t even located my wife by the time the artery was opened.
I’m forever grateful for the work of the American Heart Association. Not only does the Heart Association fund education and medical advancements like those used in my procedure, but it also works to get us the fastest and best emergency care possible. It saves lives.
I’m sharing my story because heart disease can affect anyone at any age. My dad died of a heart attack when he was only 57. He collapsed while watching my brother’s high school tennis match. That loss motivated me to make my heart health a priority – keeping physically active, having regular check-ups and eating well.
I urge you to support the work of the American Heart Association and make your health a priority. Don’t hesitate to seek medical assistance when you think something is wrong.
NDSU head basketball coach 1978-1992
Retired Senior Associate Athletic Director
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