The life-saving message “don’t wait until it’s too late – call 9-1-1” is now on the move, thanks to a partnership with Canyon County Paramedics, West Valley Medical Center and the American Heart Association (AHA). The three agencies have teamed up to display this message on all Canyon County ambulance vehicles following startling emergency call statistics.

“Our paramedics and EMTs see firsthand how important it is for patients to make that call early. We’re concerned that people are not calling 911 when they have heart attack or stroke symptoms because of the pandemic, and that has led to an increase in out of hospital cardiac arrests,” said Deputy Chief Steve Blados, Canyon County Paramedics.

Recent data pulled from the AHA (2020) shows 9-1-1 calls across the country are down 29 percent, chest pain calls are down 31 percent, and stroke calls are down 20 percent. Similar patterns have been evident in emergency room volume data at West Valley Medical Center during the pandemic.

“We are proud to partner in this campaign with the American Heart Association and Canyon County Paramedics. The danger of delaying or avoiding care can result in permanent disability or death,” said Dr. Richard Augustus, chief medical officer, West Valley Medical Center. “These signs will serve as a mobile reminder to the community to seek help and we are ready to care for them when they do.”

“We encourage everyone facing a medical emergency to seek help quickly. If something’s not right, you should pay attention to the warning signs of heart attack and stroke and seek emergency care immediately,” said Laura Western, Executive Director, American Heart Association Idaho Division.

Currently the decals have been placed on the entire ambulance fleet which includes six (soon to be seven). The messaging is located on the back of the ambulance, in each window – one message is in English, one in Spanish.

“Twenty-five percent of the population of our county is Hispanic, so it was vital that this message was in both English and Spanish. This is a critical, life-saving message that is never outdated, so we plan to leave the decals on indefinitely,” said Blados.

The decals are a continuation of a billboard and social media campaign earlier this year hosted by West Valley Medical Center and the AHA with this same message aimed at educating the public about the importance of not waiting to call 9-1-1.