Posted on 09/22/2007

September 22, 2007–ROCHESTER, Minn.–Deputy Police Chief Steve Johnston has announced the 101st life saved by first responders in Rochester since the program began nearly 17 years ago.

Dr. Roger White, a professor at Mayo Medical School, medical director for Gold Cross Ambulance, and adviser to the SCA Foundation (see bio), initiated a study in November 1990 to see if putting portable defibrillators in four city squad cars would help save lives of people in cardiac arrest. It did, and the rest is history.

Rochester became the first city in the world to put the portable units in squad cars. Today, all Rochester squad cars have the units.

In 1998, the units were added to all Rochester firetrucks.

White said it doesn't matter who gets to the patient first—police, fire or EMS. The critical element is how quickly they get there. Currently, that call-to-shock time averages 5.5 minutes. He said they now have a 46 percent survival-to-hospital-discharge rate for patients shocked by the first responders. The average survival rate nationally is 7 percent.

Not all cardiac arrests are treatable with defibrillators, White said.

Johnston said that it is estimated that 30 percent of law enforcement agencies in Minnesota use the portable defibrillators.

The 101 saves since November 1990 reflect only patients found in ventricular fibrillation (VF) resulting from cardiac causes.  If non-cardiac causes and non-VF rhythms are included, the number increases to 116. 

Source: Rochester Post-Bulletin and