BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a familiar scenario. You're at home or work, and suddenly odd symptoms set in letting you know something is very wrong. So, do you pick up your keys and drive to the nearest hospital? Local medical experts say no. Instead call 911.
"The treatment starts when you call 911, because the operators that answers the phone are trained in emergency medicine, and they can also can help you give you instructions tell you what to do, what not to do," said Baton Rouge EMS officer Mike Chustz.
Emergency departments are encouraging patients who think they're suffering a stroke, heart attack or other medical emergency to "Survive, don't drive." Doctors explain that patients will sometimes attempt to drive to the E.R., which can lead to dangerous delays in treatment.
"Don't take a chance with your family member or yourself. Things may progress along the way that even when you think you could drive yourself safely, something catastrophic could happen along the way," said Our Lady of the Lake Director of Medical Services, Dr. James Rhorer.
Whether it's a heart attack or a stroke, paramedics can begin treatment immediately, administering medication and monitoring vital signs. More importantly they can let the hospital know exactly what to expect, sending an EKG and other information to the hospital ahead of arrival.
"If we have time to prepare because patients are being safely transported, and we've received information in advance of their arrival, we can actually can do a more efficient job," said Rhorer.
Once the patient arrives, transfer of care is seamless which allows doctors to continue care without delay.