“We know effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can greatly increase a victim’s chance of survival, but only about a third of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander,” said Capt. Shaughn Maxwell, head of Fire District 1’s Emergency Medical Services Division.
Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The patient’s heart and breathing stop. It’s unexpected and occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear. More than 400,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of hospitals each year in the United States and 88 percent occur at home, according to the American Heart Association.
“Because cardiac arrest occurs most frequently at home, the life you save by knowing CPR is likely to be someone close to you — a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend,” Maxwell said.
Citizens can also learn to use automated external defibrillators (AEDs), now available in many public places. These devices can be used by a layperson with minimal training to safely administer an electrical shock to attempt to restore hearth rhythm when sudden cardiac arrest occurs.
The sooner a sudden cardiac arrest patient receives CPR and defibrillation, the better the chance of survival, Maxwell explained.
Fire District 1 offers monthly, day-long certification classes for the public covering first aid, CPR and AED use. Class costs, registration information and schedules are available at www.firedistrict1.org.
Those who don’t have the time or resources to attend the day-long class, can learn hands-only CPR for free by watching a 60-second American Heart Association video online. A link to the video is available on Fire District 1’s CPR training page.
Fire District 1 was recently honored for having the highest cardiac arrest save rate in Snohomish County. At 71.4 percent (measured using international standards), Fire District 1’s save rate for 2014 was well above the national average of around 20 percent.
“We’ve taken several steps to improve our cardiac care as well the delivery of other emergency services. Our firefighters have advanced training, high-tech equipment and the latest medications for treating cardiac arrests,” Maxwell said. “But citizens trained to administer CPR immediately also play a key role in increasing a patient’s chance of survival.”
In the coming year, Fire District 1 will be expanding CPR and AED training opportunities for the public. “Our goal is to increase bystander CPR and AED use to save more lives,” Maxwell said.
Fire District 1 is the largest provider of fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County, with full-time staffing at 12 fire stations. The department serves nearly 200,000 residents in unincorporated south Snohomish County, Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.