Posted on 04/20/2007

April 20, 2007 – RENO, NV– Leading local health organizations in the State of Nevada have announced the formation of Nevada Project Heartbeat, the first statewide Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program in the United States.

Nevada Project Heartbeat’s goal is to improve Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) survivability in the State of Nevada. It aims to accomplish this goal by raising the average citizen’s awareness of SCA, and by providing places of business, public agencies, and other organizations with the tools and training needed to make Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available, accessible, and affordable.

“We want to make widely available the tools and training that will strengthen the average citizen’s role as the first responder in a cardiac emergency,” said Fergus Laughridge, Program Manager for Emergency Medical Services at the Nevada State Health Division. “If every citizen knows how to recognize the early signs of sudden cardiac arrest, activate the emergency response system, and use an AED, then we can significantly improve the likelihood of surviving a SCA in Nevada, whether it occurs in Reno, Las Vegas or points in between, like Gabbs, population 318.”

“The AHA recognizes four links in the chain of survival. Early detection, early CPR, early defibrillation, and early advanced care,” said J.W. Hodge, Public Education Manager at Reno-based Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA). “With more AEDs in the community, trained citizens become part of the emergency response system, increasing the likelihood that the four links can quickly and properly work together to save a life.”

Nevada Project Heartbeat is sponsored by a partnership of local Nevada healthcare organizations that had previously facilitated the deployment of more than 500 AEDs in their own communities across the State. The partners include REMSA, which will provide CPR and AED training in accordance with the latest American Heart Association guidelines and medical oversight for participating AED sites in urban areas; the Nevada State Health Division, Emergency Medical Services, which will set and maintain the training standards for CPR with an AED; the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Center for Education and Health Services Outreach and Office of Rural Health, which has deployed AEDs in Nevada with federal grants for AED deployment in rural areas; and Humboldt County General Hospital, which will train and oversee participating rural sites. Humboldt General has administered its own rural PAD program since 2005.

“Our hope is that Humboldt County’s PAD program will be a model for other rural communities in Nevada,” said Pat Songer, Emergency Response Services Coordinator at Humboldt County General Hospital. “When more victims of SCA arrive at the hospital alive, treatment and rehabilitation can restore heart health. The recent saves in Humboldt County that occurred with previously deployed AEDs prove that this model works, and we are excited to bring it to the rest of the State.”

Nevada Project Heartbeat will help a variety organizations such as fire and EMS departments, educational institutions, places of business, and healthcare and municipal facilities to set up and operate their own, localized PAD programs wherever the public may congregate. Nevada Project Heartbeat will provide participating organizations with access to the following services:

  • Preferred pricing for AEDs;

  • Medical oversight, including physician validation of training, standards, and procedures;

  • CPR/AED training;

  • Program maintenance, including record keeping and data collection;

  • Consulting on site selection and deployment;

  • Incident management;

  • Protection against loss, damage or liability associated with an AED deployment.

“Single-city PAD programs have become fairly common in the U.S. and have been very successful,” noted Julie Redding, Program Coordinator, Nevada Rural AED Grant Program at University of Nevada School of Medicine, Office of Rural Health. “It is our hope that Nevada’s statewide program will inspire health professionals in the rest of the country to think creatively about how to design effective, accessible defibrillation programs that can have a broader impact. The University of Nevada, School of Medicine, Office of Rural Health is proud to be a partner in this effort.”

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