Canby Fire: Cardiac Patients Dying Out of Fear of Catching Covid-19

Cardiac arrest-related emergency calls have increased by 300 percent in the Canby Fire District in the past 90 days, Division Chief Matt English reported Wednesday night, even as survival rates have plummeted.

According to Canby Fire, it’s all due to people waiting too long to call 911 out of fear of contracting the novel coronavirus as new cases surge in Canby and across Oregon.

“We don’t believe that people are calling 911 when they have initial heart issues or chest pain or shortness of breath,” English said. “We believe that they’re waiting because they’re concerned about getting Covid, either in an ambulance or in an [emergency room].”

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, those who suffered cardiac emergencies in the Canby Fire District had a 30 percent survival rate. But in the past 90 days, that rate has plummeted; despite EMTs’ dedicated efforts, only a single cardiac patient has survived since March.

Early detection and response is crucial to surviving a cardiac episode.

“Please call 911 if you need to,” English said, and do not hesitate.

Emergency medical responders in Canby continue to follow the most stringent infection prevention protocols to protect themselves and the public. They wear Tyvek suits, isolation gowns, P100 respirators, safety glasses and shields for all calls — not just the ones involving confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

“We want you to understand that we completely decontaminate our apparatus, our medical units and our personnel between every single response,” the division chief said.

Hospitals and emergency rooms are also following strict protocols to prevent cross-contamination, he added.

“If you call 911, we want you to be sure that you will have the cleanest and safest transport possible,” English said. “We will ensure that everything has been decontaminated and ready for you to go. If you are having any chest pain, any shortness of breath, anything that could be cardiac related, please don’t wait it out. Please don’t become a statistic. Please call us.”

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