AED machines in police, fire units increases sudden cardiac arrest victims’ survival rate

Christine Lee, News Editor

Rochester, Minn. is a city of about 107,000 located southeast of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It may seem like any other city in America, but it is doing something truly unique that is saving lives.

In 1990, Dr. Roger White from the Mayo Clinic, headquartered in the city, started a program that puts automatic external defibrillators into every police and other first responder car in the city.

The goal of starting the program was to see if survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest would increase if police were equipped with the AED devices to shock a person back to life within the first four to six minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest incident. These minutes are critical to a person’s survival before an ambulance arrives.

It turns out he was correct. As a result of this program, the survival rate for patients who suffer cardiac arrest in the city exceeds 46 percent, way above the national average of 7 percent.

The use of an AED machine can greatly improve a victim of sudden cardiac arrest’s chance of survival. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, treatment of sudden cardiac arrest with immediate defibrillation can result in a survival chance of greater than 90 percent.

With each minute in delay of defibrillation, nearly 10 percent fewer patients survive sudden cardiac arrest, so after 10 minutes, survival is dismal for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.

Because of their part in saving lives and improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest, more communities across the United States need to adopt AED devices for police and other first responder vehicles.

According to the American Heart Association, response to sudden cardiac arrest by police averaged about 1.5 minute faster than that of the EMS and the dual-response system reduced overall first-responder time to just five minutes. This meant an improvement in the percentage of those who survived an episode of sudden cardiac arrest, with a survival rate of 17.2 percent.

By having these devices in these units, police and other first responders such as firemen can improve a person’s chances for survival from sudden cardiac arrest much more quickly.

With police and fire units being deployed more frequently and police units patrolling city streets on a daily basis, police are in a unique position to assist people who have suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. By being equipped with an AED device in their patrol cars, police and firemen can provide victims of sudden cardiac arrest the basic life-saving treatment needed to aide in survival of sudden cardiac arrest before an ambulance even arrives on the scene.

Having an AED device in police and fire units gives victims of sudden cardiac arrest a better chance of survival. More cities across the country need to adopt Rochester, Minn’s model to better save lives of their citizens.