Posted by how1e on 11/30/2017

A couple of heart-related local news stories came up the other day and I was struck again by the importance of AED’s and the factors that come into play in determining whether or not an SCA crisis has the best possible outcome. Usually it seems that most of life “out there in the big world” is beyond our control, but there are some crucial pieces of the emergency response puzzle that make a huge difference in life or death outcomes of SCA events. Working individually and with our communities, we can take concrete steps to improve survival rates for SCA right where we live!

Recently I saw a local TV report about a school-based Community Services Police Officer who had been the first responder in a successful SCA rescue at one of our area middle schools. A fourteen-year-old boy dropped to the floor unconscious following afternoon sports practice and the CSO was called. “I just started running,” he said, “I started CPR and yelled, ‘get me an AED!’ ” He started with CPR while a helper brought the school’s AED and he then administered a shock, getting a slight pulse. Paramedics arrived and shocked the student two more times on site. The story ended well--the student is fully recovered. Why? Because a willing first responder acted quickly, because he knew CPR, and because an AED was available and he knew enough to use it!

After hearing that story, I saw another piece telling how our county has been running “heartmap” contests to get people to find and report as many AED’s as they can throughout the area. Cash prizes are offered for those finding the most machines, and of course with the county’s campaign goes publicity regarding benefits and usage. Local fire district officials say “anything we can do to benefit the community being able to perform proper CPR with AED’s is going to be priceless.”

The pieces of the puzzle really came together for me when I saw yet another article, this one about the 911-call-center in our neighbor county. As call-center statistics were studied a significant fact emerged: each year they were receiving “over 1000 calls for heart-related problems and sudden cardiac arrest”. This fact motivated them to search for ways to respond better to heart-related calls (calls in which response time is crucial--each passing minute reduces chances of survival by 10%; do the math and you get maybe 10 minutes when full recovery is possible if help arrives).
Their solution? Launch the use of the PulsePoint Respond mobile app in their region. This app allows the 911 center to notify mobile phone users (who can perform CPR and/or use an AED) when there is an SCA event occurring in their vicinity. This should bring the quickest possible response to a victim of SCA until Public Safety Officers can make their way to the scene! The app is free, also has simple guidelines on performing CPR and using an AED, and the 911 call center and EMS are encouraging everyone to get this app downloaded asap. Now get this: The results of AED mapping (see above) have been added to the PulsePoint Respond app so that a first responder can find the nearest AED when notified of an SCA emergency! What a communication tool! This mobilizes the local force of First Aid Good Samaritans!

All the pieces are coming together to produce timely and effective SCA response capability! Heart-related emergencies happen every day, but we have an effective tool, the AED, that can save lives. If we know where the AED’s are located and can quickly get them into the hands of the nearest skilled bystanders, we can make real headway in shortening response time when a victim is in need. Our bottom line is an increased survival rate for those suffering a life-threatening medical emergency!

Strangely enough, before these reports of local crisis events and public safety agency efforts to improve rescue success rates came my way, I had been thinking that sudden cardiac arrests really are very rare. I began to question whether my personal efforts at making sure AED’s are available were worth all that much… not to mention also being ready myself with the skills to help a victim should the need arise. Then I came across the news of a young man in my neighborhood who dropped to the ground with SCA, but is now still alive because an AED, a trained first aider, and fast communication all came together to save him. I also saw that many others are also working to improve emergency services specifically in the area of heart-related emergencies. Guess I better think again about what I can be doing to help the cause and be ready myself…maybe my turn is coming?
So, as fellow blogger Lenny Nathan of HealthSav has encouraged us to do, I’ll shout it out! (see sca-aware HealthSav blog 7/26/2017 “Improvements to Public Awareness of CPR”)

We need more AED’s in more locations!
We need to completely and systematically map where these machines are available!
We need to use communications technology to speed arrival of skilled emergency responders!
We need more public awareness of the need for AED’s and skills in first aid, CPR, and AED use!
We need to improve and increase availability of training in first aid, CPR, and AED use!
Most of all, we need to stay positive, and do all we can to be ready if we are called on to help in an emergency!