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The beginning of 2021 was a major challenge for our community and MedStar’s crews.  In addition to significant COVID-19 patient volume, we had of course, the major weather issues. 

But in January and February MedStar crews also saw a significant spike in cardiac arrest cases with monthly cases up 31% and 35% respectively.  Thankfully, March 2021 cardiac arrest cases were only slightly more than last year.

While it may be odd to say, a potential ‘good news’ sign that normalcy may be returning is that MedStar’s response volume for patients our crews indicate are likely having a heart attack is increasing.  We were very concerned in 2020 with the decline in daily response volume for potential heart attack victims, fearing people may be afraid to call 9-1-1 and that leading to the increase in cardiac arrest cases.

The median heart attack symptom duration before calling 9-1-1 remains fairly consistent at 2 hours.  We recommend calling 9-1-1 as soon as you think you may be experiencing signs and symptoms of a heart attack. 

For information on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as resources to learn CPR, visit: