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A Lincoln Fire and Rescue ambulance. (LJS file photo)

Lincoln often finds itself on lists of top cities — tops in well-being, affordable health care, for college students, places to raise a family, affordable market for first-time home buyers, for job prospects, for business.

And if there were a list for the “Top Ten Cities for Having a Heart Attack,” Lincoln would be at or near the top, according to Fire Chief John Huff.

Huff recently talked about Lincoln’s exceptional service and exceptional survival rates for people with symptoms of a heart attack who call 911.

Lincoln’s 911 dispatchers are good at recognizing who is likely having a heart attack. The city’s rescue crews can do an EKG in the ambulance and send reports to the hospital. And Lincoln hospitals have started bypassing the emergency room, sending patients straight to the cath lab, said Dr. Jason Kruger, medical director for Lincoln Fire and Rescue.

The national standard for door-to-balloon time, or the time between a patient entering the hospital's doors to having a blocked artery cleared, is 90 minutes, according to Kruger.

Not every community tracks the 911 call-to-balloon time, or the time between a call to 911 and an artery being opened at the hospital.

But Seattle does.

Seattle, considered a national leader, reports a 95-minute average 911 call-to-balloon time.

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Lincoln’s time from 911 call to angioplasty is less than 70 minutes, Kruger says.

That generally means better outcomes for Lincoln residents with heart problems.

Huff told the council he’d like to promote Lincoln as a “great place to have a heart attack,” but he’s not sure how to frame the message.

“Come to Nebraska and have a heart attack” doesn't seem to work.

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