Heart buses travel from New York to Orange County to provide life-saving cardiology tests to deputies

Physicians: First responders at higher risk for heart disease and stroke due to added stress of job

Physicians are taking it to heart and getting results for first responders.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Physicians are taking it to heart and getting results for first responders.

Orange County deputies are getting heart health screenings at work onboard a special bus. The local Fraternal Order of Police planned the event with Advanced Cardiovascular Diagnostics, who brought two large buses filled with cardiology equipment.

“They’re constantly overloaded with cortisol floods and stress, that fight-or-flight hormone and that leads to inflammation and breakdown of the arteries,” said Nurse Practitioner Chelsea Engel.

With the added health risk factors of a normal person like high blood pressure and family history, Engel says first responders are at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. That's why Advanced Cardiovascular Diagnostics brought two heart buses from New York to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The buses are filled with state-of-the-art cardiovascular equipment and certified techs. Orange County deputies can get several non-invasive tests to learn about their heart health including Echocardiograms, Stress Echocardiograms, Carotid Dopplers, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Ultrasounds, Lower Extremity Dopplers, Transcranial Dopplers a pulmonary Function Tests.

Right on the bus, a tech attaches wires to your body, gets you on a fitness bike and measures how your heart responds to a stress test.

“We assess you just like we would in a clinic and we can recommend same-day tests so we give you your results right then and there,” Engel said.

This mobile testing program was founded by Dr. Perry Frankel, who is a New York-based cardiologist with a mission to provide accessible testing for first responders. These tests are given through the deputy's insurance company with no out-of-pocket costs.

“Taking care of first responders, police, firefighters, EMT and paramedics is one of our priorities. We want to take care of the people who take care of us. When Dr. Perry Frankel started this practice almost ten years ago, he really had such a passion for helping police and firefighters because they’re at the highest risk of death for cardiac disease,” Engel said.

Attorney Geoff Bichler, Senior Partner of Bichler & Longo, PLLC., represents first responders across the state who file claims for compensation due to cardiovascular issues.

“Hypertension and Heart Disease claims are very prominent in this community, and the biggest thing from our perspective is to try to identify problems early before they become disabling or - god forbid - career-ending. It seems to hit on all fronts as far as effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and helping us to identify conditions early on,” said Bichler.

Physicians said results from some of these tests have exposed health problems and saved lives across the country. The heart buses will also serve Orange County deputies on Tuesday. Walk-in appointments are also available.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.