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  April 17, 2000

Emergency Care Drama Almost
Gives Audience Heart Attack

Gordon Andrew, of West Hartford, a 500-hour volunteer in the John Dempsey Hospital Emergency Department was at the podium in a Health Center auditorium the night of April 6, speaking on the merits of being a volunteer, when he experienced a rash of symptoms and collapsed backwards clutching his heart.

The 160-plus people attending the lecture gasped. David Marks, a physician and Health Team 30 correspondent for WVIT-TV, who was covering the lecture, directed his cameraman center stage to tape the event.

Reaction was quick: People near the stage moved to his assistance. Someone opened his clothing to improve circulation; someone else pulled out a cell phone and called 911 to summon paramedics; a nurse ran up and knelt beside him, checked his pulse and assured him everything was OK and that medical help was on the way.

If you've got to be stricken, then being stricken in a hospital is a smart move. Being stricken during an emergency medicine lecture as part of the Health Center's Discovery Series is brilliant.

As the Health Center's paramedics quick-stepped into the auditorium bearing various life-saving equipment, Thomas Regan, director of medical student education for the Department of Traumatology and Emergency Medicine, grabbed the microphone and informed the audience that what they were seeing was how things really worked in an emergency. He also told them that Andrew's attack was simulated, which allowed them to sit back and enjoy the show.

"This was one of the more exciting lectures, because of the reaction it elicited from the audience," said Rick Daddario, Discovery Series organizer. "The idea of simulating a heart attack was a way to engage the audience - to bring an emergency home to them - and, judging from their reaction, it worked just like it was supposed to."

Before the night was through, the audience witnessed first hand what occurs when a patient is brought to an emergency department with a suspected myocardial infarction.

The experience, in addition to transforming the stage of the Keller Auditorium into a smaller version of the John Dempsey Hospital Emergency Department, included medical consultation, doctor-nurse-patient interaction; doctor/ resident-physician interaction; testing, interpreting results, diagnosis and treatment.

The audience found the presentation so much fun that at the end they applauded.

The Discovery Series is a series of free Health Center lectures intended to educate the public on the latest in clinical research, disease, wellness and prevention. Lecturers are School of Medicine faculty and include clinicians, researchers and educators.

Since October 1988, topics covered have included depression, neurology, primary care, osteoporosis, diabetes, aging, complementary medicine, prostate cancer, cardiac care and more.

Lectures are held during the week from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Keller Auditorium. The forum usually includes a question and answer period.

Upcoming lectures are:

April 13, "Bladder Problems in Women;"

May 9, "Improving Breast Cancer Care" (sponsored by the Charlotte Johnson Hollfelder Foundation Inc.); and

June 8, "Minimally Invasive Surgery."

Reservations are suggested. If you would like to attend, call (800) 535-6232.