LifeNet, Inc. recently released their annual Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) report detailing survival rates for 2019. SCA is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It strikes people of all ages and leads to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away.
Last year, LifeNet’s Texarkana Division responded to 450 calls for patients who had suffered an SCA. The Division includes Bowie, Red River, and part of Cass County in Texas, along with Miller County in Arkansas. Of the 181 patients who were viable for resuscitation efforts, 58 patients had return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC), and 21 survived to hospital discharge, for a survival of 12 percent.
“Helping improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in a community is a team effort that involves bystanders, first responders, dispatchers, EMTs and paramedics, and our hospital partners,” said David Baumgardner, CEO of LIfeNet. “Together we were able to save 21 lives last year and keep our survival rate two percent higher than the national average. That means three more lives were saved across the greater Texarkana area than would have been saved nationally. We are always looking for ways to improve upon that number, and that only happens by strengthening each link of the Chain of Survival.”
The Chain of Survival has five key links. First, someone must recognize they have witnessed a person going into SCA and call 9-1-1 to activate the EMS system. Second, emergency medical dispatchers must be trained to enable callers to do quality CPR until medical help arrives on scene. Third, if an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is available, early defibrillation must occur.
The first three steps need to happen within the first five to eight minutes for an SCA victim to have a viable chance at survival. Without these steps happening, the chance of any EMS team getting ROSC on a patient when they arrive is very slim, and for each minute that these steps don’t happen, the chance gets slimmer.
The fourth step in the chain of survival is early advanced medical care by EMS prior to and while transporting the patient to the hospital. Post resuscitation care at the hospital is the final link in the chain of survival that leads to hospital discharge.
Helping improve survival rates is not only an EMS and hospital team effort, but it is also a community effort. Someone witnessed 120 patients suffer their SCA out of the 181 patients LifeNet crews attempted resuscitative efforts on.
LifeNet’s survival rate across the Texarkana Division increased to 30% for patients who were both in ventricular fibrillation (VF) and who had someone witness their event. VF is one of the abnormal electrical activities that causes the heart to quiver, stopping it from effectively pumping blood. VF is short lived and will deteriorate to asystole (a flat line) if not treated promptly. Shocking the heart with an AED is the only effective treatment for VF. The AED sends an electrical current through the chest to the heart with the goal of stopping the VF and providing an opportunity for the heart’s normal electrical system to take control. This current helps the heart reorganize the electrical activity so it can pump blood again.
“For several years now, LifeNet has worked to place more AEDs throughout our community. Our goal remains to have one on every corner and in every business where multiple people work, shop, or frequent. We offer a matching fund program to help non-profits and first responder organizations purchase AEDs. We believe it is important to help equip the people most likely to respond first on scene with the tools they need to improve a patient’s chance of survival. We also allow for-profit businesses to purchase Zoll AEDs through us at our cost,” Baumgardner said.
LifeNet also offers a free bystander CPR and AED use class. It is designed to teach everyday people how to perform quality chest compressions and utilize an AED. The hour-long class includes a 20-minute lecture and hands-on practice. LifeNet offers the class to groups of 10+ people wherever it is most convenient for the group.
To learn more about sudden cardiac arrest, you can download LifeNet’s 2019 SCA Report at www.LifeNetEMS.org/SCAReport. To schedule a free class, or to learn more about the AED Matching Fund Program, call 903-556-0301.