Health officials met for the first work session Friday immediately following a news conference announcing the initiative. They'll also be working on a way to educate state residents on the signs and symptoms of heart attack and when to seek medical help.
Symptoms of a heart attack include chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back, and discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, and shortness of breath. Symptoms might also include a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
The Bernard McDonough Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation are local sponsors of the initiative, said Kevin Pauley, a spokesman for the local AHA.
One of the first goals the group has is to hire an executive director for Mission: Lifeline. Pauley said a director would be hired in the near future.
West Virginia, as do other rural states, has challenges to getting patients to hospitals quickly, said Dr. Carl McComas, a board member for the Great Rivers Affiliate of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. In a rural county like Pocahontas, for instance, it may take EMS a half-hour or hour to get a patient to the hospital, he said.
McComas said ideally it would take an hour to be treated from the time the patient calls EMS. The national average is about an hour and a half, he said.
Roettig said she expects good things from the initiative.
"I am thrilled that this is coming to West Virginia," she said. "These are really hardworking people, the backbone of the U.S."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.