Sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke and other heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the United States but patients who experience sudden cardiac arrest are far more likely to survive if that episode occurs in the San Ramon Valley.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting are around 8.5 percent. The San Ramon Valley may be one of the safest places to experience a cardiac emergency, with survival rates two times higher at 17.9 percent.
"We are very proud of our cardiac arrest survival statistics," said Fire Chief Paige Meyer. "We attribute our success to many factors including our 911 Communication Center who utilizes Emergency Medical Dispatching, our rigorous paramedic training program, state of the art equipment on all our fire engines and ambulances, and our community outreach program that teaches hands-only CPR to over 2000 residents each year."
Valley residents have an even greater occurrence of survival if someone witnesses their cardiac emergency and their heart is able to be shocked by an automated external defibrillator (AED), in this scenario the likelihood of survival increases to 46.9 percent from 26.3 percent nationwide.
These rates are partially due to the district's HeartSafe community program, which encourages residents to learn hands-only CPR, promote the placement of public access AEDs and teach students CPR. Since January of 2011, the program has trained over 4,500 residents in hands-only CPR and AED use and has seen a sharp increase in the occurrence of bystander CPR. In 2010, bystander CPR was administered 35 percent of the time and in 2012 that number had risen to over 50 percent.
"As a sudden cardiac arrest survivor and advocate for bystander CPR and AED use, I know the importance of rapid quality care," said Joe Farrell, a Danville resident. "I am proud to live in a community that takes such pride in their level of patient care and I rest easy at night knowing I'm safer simply because I live here."
San Ramon Valley Fire pioneered the use of a CPR app, PulsePoint, which uses GPS technology to alert nearby Good Samaritans to victims of cardiac arrest. The smartphone application is now used in several Bay Area counties and throughout the country.
Valley firefighters and paramedics are also equipped with LIFEPAK 15 cardiac monitors, a new tool that could make cardiac care even stronger throughout the district. The cardiac monitors perform 12-lead EKG readings that help first responders determine the most appropriate treatment while also functioning as defibrillators, blood pressure monitors and oxygen saturation monitors.
Although the Fire District has been using similar monitors for the past eight years, LIFEPACK 15 now has the capability to wirelessly transmit the patient's current medical condition directly to the emergency room. This information will allow hospitals time to prepare the most appropriate medical team and treatment for the patient upon arrival.
The purchase of the LIFEPAK 15 monitors were part of a grant awarded to Contra Costa County EMS as part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants program.