Sue Talampas, 56, is calling the Rama Paramedics and the heart care team at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) super stars for the ‘gold standard’ of treatment she received after suffering a recent heart attack.
The Township of Ramara resident was getting ready for her shift at Casino Rama when intense pain hit her in the neck, chest and arms. Thinking it was just a result of existing chronic back pain she was all set to wait it out. Then she started sweating profusely and that’s what set off the alarm bells.
“I knew then that something different was happening. Something was really wrong and yet I never thought I was having a heart attack – it didn’t cross my mind,” says Talampas.
But she was indeed in the midst of a heart attack that would require immediate angioplasty and the insertion of two stents.
Talampas’ husband Misael called 911 and was instructed to give her two Aspirin. Upon arrival and after assessing, the paramedics enacted the Code STEMI protocol which saw Talampas transported directly to RVH’s Cardiac Intervention Unit for her lifesaving treatment. This ‘gold standard’ of care is achieved when a patient receives advanced cardiac care in 120 minutes or less upon first medical contact.
Heart attack patients in the region now have access to the ‘gold standard’ of care thanks to the Simcoe Muskoka Code STEMI Protocol, first introduced to the county and Rama First Nation in November 2020. This protocol was gradually implemented throughout the region and is a partnership between RVH, the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, Rama and Muskoka Paramedic Services and area hospitals. This protocol means that most residents with heart attack symptoms who present to an Emergency department or who call 911 are taken directly to RVH where the advanced heart team is waiting for them.
“We are incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our paramedics everyday, and we have been excited to bring advanced cardiac care to the residents of Rama First Nation and surrounding area. Our paramedics have worked diligently for years perfecting their clinical practice to ensure that our patients receive the highest level of care,” says Ryan Kingsborough, Paramedic Superintendent, Chippewas of Rama First Nation.
RVH is well positioned to deliver advanced cardiac care. The regional heart program, a partnership with Southlake, opened in January 2018 and since then the cardiac team has completed just over 6,800 heart procedures including angiograms, angioplasty and pacemaker implants.
“Having these advanced cardiac services, and a highly-skilled team at RVH, means that now the majority of patients in Simcoe County will be able to get lifesaving intervention within 120 minutes of a heart attack,” says Dr. Tony Lee, medical director of RVH’s Cardiac Intervention Unit. “This new cardiac protocol would not be possible without the full collaboration of all our health partners in this region.”
It is this collaboration that has Talampas singing her care team’s praises.
“I was impressed with how everything went so smoothly. It was such a wonderful experience right from the two great female paramedics to my care in RVH’s Cardiac Care Unit following my procedure,” says Talampas. “I have always supported the establishing of advance cardiac care at RVH through Bell Media’s Radio for Cardiology Radiothon, never thinking I’d be the one using the service. Now I’m feeling so grateful for it”.
It is important to know the signs of a heart attack: chest pressure, sweating, neck and jaw discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath or light-headedness. Anyone who thinks they may be having a heart attack should immediately call 911.