On February 6th, National Wear Red Day, approximately 350 Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVF&R) firefighter medics, training officers, and fire prevention staff, will exchange their blue duty uniform shirts for red ones in recognition that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
They will continue wearing the shirts throughout Heart Month. In addition, Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center staff in the Chest Pain Center, Cardiac Rehab Center, and some Emergency Department staff will also wear the shirts throughout the month.
The joint partnership between Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue will help raise awareness in TVF&R's service area about the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack - which can be different for men and women - and when to call 9-1-1.
The red shirts sport an important message: "Know the signs of a heart attack, don't delay, and call 9-1-1".
Identifying the symptoms of a heart attack and calling 9-1-1 triggers a potentially life-saving continuum of care for a cardiac patient. Firefighter medics can begin advanced medical care in the field and hospitals like Legacy Meridian Park, with a dedicated catheterization lab and Chest Pain Center, provide an expert diagnosis and fast, effective treatment.
While the message is equally important for both men and women, we know that awareness of heart disease and gender-specific heart symptoms in women has severely lagged behind that of men. Only one in five American women believes it is her greatest health threat.
"Our emergency responders and staff are wearing red shirts during Heart Month because they believe that the strength of an entire community fighting side by side will ultimately prove to be more powerful than the nation's No. 1 killer - heart disease," said TVF&R Deputy Chief Dustin Morrow. "Because our firefighter medics respond to over 1,600 cardiac related calls each year, we will continue to provide the most effective advanced medical care possible and tirelessly advocate for the heart health of our community."
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms - particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. They are also symptoms that women often brush off as the flu, stress, or simply feeling under the weather, which could put their lives in jeopardy.
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center Chief Administrative Officer Allyson Anderson states, "In its first 10 years, Go Red for Women raised awareness by 23% that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Greater awareness has been achieved through many grassroots efforts. TVF&R's willingness to outfit their firefighters in red duty shirts is a great example of keeping the Go Red momentum moving forward in our community and changing women's health through awareness and education."