PELL CITY -- A local doctor’s office, with heart and vein specialists, is providing free cardiac screenings to Pell City firefighters.

The free service by the Birmingham Heart Clinic at Northside Medical Clinic was offered after Pell City Fire Department Capt. Joey Vaughan sought out possible medical screenings for firefighters after he discovered statics that concerned him.

“The latest statistics and research that we found showed that 45 to 50 percent of the line-of-duty deaths (of firefighters) were sudden cardiac arrests,” Vaughan said.

He said cancer is another common cause of death among firefighters.

“People think about firefighters dying in house fires,” Vaughan said, adding that that was not the case.

Vaughan said there are many things that contribute to cardiac arrests among firefighters, like long work hours, less than ideal diets and irregular sleep patterns.

“We did some research and found a place locally that we could get tested,” he said.

Vaughan said he called and talked to Margaret Ann Webb, who is the physician relations/marketing director for the Birmingham Heart Clinic, explaining the risks firefighters face with cardiac arrest while on duty.

He asked her what it would cost to have screenings for all Pell City firefighters.

“I told her, this is the type insurance we have, and I asked her what it would cost the city, etc.,” Vaughan said.

Webb told him she would check and get back to him.

“She told me they would do it for free,” Vaughan said. “I was blown away, incredible.”

He said doctors would check blood pressure, do a lipid panel and an EKG, all for free.

“If they found something, they could order more tests, like a stress test,” Vaughan said.

Webb said Northside Medical Associates was doing the lipid panels.

Birmingham Heart Clinic has seven offices scattered in and around Birmingham. The clinic has 15 cardiologists on staff. It has had a presence in Pell City for the past eight years.

Birmingham Heart Clinic doctors are also on call at St. Vincent’s St. Clair.

Webb said the Pell City Fire Department was the first to be offered the free screenings by Birmingham Heart Clinic, but it may not be the last.

“We want to prevent unnecessary deaths and help improve the quality of life for people,” Webb said.

Birmingham Heart Clinic’s Pell City office is at 74 Plaza Drive, suite 2B. It is open daily, Monday-Friday.