When Pam Tucker started showing symptoms of a heart attack Saturday at the Evans Walmart, it was less than a minute before she was being treated by medical personnel.
Of course, it helped that they were already on site.
Tucker, the Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division director, along with Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue personnel and Gold Cross rescue services, took part in the University Health Care System’s Chest Pain Awareness Drill. Tucker was the event’s designated victim.
The goal was to educate the public about the symptoms of heart attack and the importance of being treated by trained professionals as quickly as possible.
“We’re actively always trying to help, not just with disaster preparedness but also helping people with health preparedness,” said Tucker.
One of the problems stressed was that people either ignore symptoms or try to drive themselves to a medical facility.
“We want to educate the public to call 911 instead of driving to the hospital with chest pain,” said Jennifer Weeks, EMS liaison and cardiovascular coordinator for University Health Care System.
Weeks also said preventative care, such as getting the heart checked, is necessary.
Outside Walmart, volunteers handed out information about heart attacks and their symptoms.
Devon Thomas, of Evans, made sure to pick up information, especially following the passing of his 63-year- old father, David, on Aug. 20 from cardiac arrest.
“It’s important,” said Thomas. “People do need early screenings. People need to get educated.”
Symptoms of a heart attack include nagging discomfort, chest pain, and upper body discomfort in one or both arms, neck and jaw, with nausea and back pain, among others.
Dr. Craig Wangsnes, University Hospital interventional cardiologist, said he can’t save anybody unless they get to him first and people shouldn’t ignore the signs.
“If you’re at risk for a heart attack and have the symptoms of a heart attack, maybe you better check it out,” he said. “Better to cry ‘wolf’ than miss your chance to keep upright.”
The University Health Care System Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center will present a heart attack and stroke prevention orientation class multiple times in September. For information and to register, call (706) 774-5548.