Med School helps make defibrillators publicly available across state

4/25/2007 7:00:00 AM

The University of Nevada School of Medicine Office of Rural Health in conjunction with various state health agencies and Cardiac Science Corporation, a leader in advanced cardiac monitoring and defibrillation products, announced recently the formation of Nevada Project Heartbeat, the first statewide Public Access Defibrillation program in the United States.

The announcement was made at the state's annual Emergency Medical Services conference in Elko.

Born of the partnership created among first-response agencies by the Nevada Rural AED Grant Program, a division of the School of Medicine's Office of Rural Health, Nevada Project Heartbeat's goal is to improve the survivability of Nevadans who experience sudden cardiac arrest.

"We know the Project Heartbeat goal is achievable," said Julie Redding, program coordinator for the School of Medicine's Rural AED Grant Program.

"The Office of Rural Health has been distributing AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) throughout the state for the past five years and we have seen positive outcomes in our rural and frontier towns and counties as a result of the program."

The University's Environmental Health & Safety department has installed nine AED stations located across the Reno campus.

To accomplish its goal, Nevada Project Heartbeat plans to raise the average citizen's awareness of sudden cardiac arrest through education efforts as well as provide places of business, public agencies, and other organizations with the tools and training needed to make automated external defibrillators both accessible and affordable.

Medical experts agree the key to surviving sudden cardiac arrest is the speed of response.

In addition to cardiopulmonary resuscitation, most cardiac arrest victims need an immediate defibrillation to restore the heart's normal rhythm.

If a victim receives defibrillation within one minute, there is a 90 percent chance of resuscitation. If a victim must wait ten minutes for defibrillation, the chance of survival drops to less than five percent.

Through the distribution of defibrillators and education efforts, Nevada Project Heartbeat's goal is to make sure all Nevadans have the best rate of survivability available to them.

More than 500 defibrillators have been distributed throughout Nevada since the grant program began including 30 which will be distributed this year throughout Eureka and Elko Counties. Nevada Project Heartbeat will allow the current grant program to further expand into rural counties and the partnership is expected to extend the life of the current grant funding.

Nevada Project Heartbeat's first initiative is to assist organizations such as fire and emergency medical services departments, educational institutions and healthcare and municipal facilities to set up and operate their own, localized PAD programs. The project will provide participating organizations access to the following services:

  • Preferred pricing for AEDs through Cardiac Science
  • Medical oversight, including physician validation of training, standards, and procedures;
  • Training in CPR with AED;
  • 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.

"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 sudden cardiac arrest in Nevada, whether it occurs in Reno, Las Vegas or points in between like Gabbs, which has a population of just 318."

In addition to the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Nevada Project Heartbeat partners include: Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (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 training standards for CPR with an AED; and Humboldt County General Hospital, which will provide technical assistance to participating rural sites.

Cardiac Science Corporation has been selected as the program's preferred manufacturer and is a partner in Project Heartbeat. The company will provide the program with Powerheart brand AEDs, and the partnership will use Cardiac Science's MasterTrak software to manage the Powerheart AEDs that are deployed across the state.


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