Every Minute Counts
In the midst of an emergency, minutes can seem like hours. Help can’t arrive fast enough.
In a medical emergency, every minute a person waits for care, their chances of survival decrease significantly. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, and during these emergencies each minute without care brings death a little closer.
The American Heart Association reports that about 360,000 cardiac arrests (heart attacks) occur outside hospital settings in the U.S. each year. Sadly, without immediate action, less than 10 percent of these cardiac emergency victims will survive.
The good news is that with immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator (AED), a person’s chances of survival more than double.
According to the American Heart Association, early defibrillation combined with CPR is sometimes the only way to restore a person’s heart to a normal rhythm. With every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent.
Clearly cardiac arrest–and getting quick care–should be a real concern to us all. Our county has some of the finest paramedics and emergency medical personnel I have ever seen. They care about our well-being and they will do almost anything to make sure we receive the best care possible.
But we live in a rural community with limited resources, and sometimes reaching a victim to deliver that first class care can take time. That’s why knowing CPR and having access to an AED are so important.
Here in Mendocino County we have a group of people working extremely hard to make sure we have access to CPR and AED training, increasing the odds of finding an AED when we need one.
Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Service Agency has teamed up with Mendocino County’s Health and Human Services Agency and MedStar/Ukiah Ambulance to start a program entitled, Save Lives Mendocino. This program has increased school safety by making AEDs and CPR training available in our schools. It also funded AEDs for each of our police patrol cars.
It makes perfect sense: law enforcement officers are often the first to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency. Having access to AEDs in our patrol cars can significantly reduce the amount of time a cardiac arrest victim has to wait before receiving the care they need.
That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago.
Ukiah Police Officers Kevin Murray and Chase Rigby were working patrol on a busy Monday afternoon when they heard fire and ambulance personnel being dispatched to the scene of an unresponsive male. Without hesitation Murray and Rigby responded to that medical emergency, and arrived to find the male laying in the Denny’s Restaurant parking lot, being cared for by bystanders.
Murray and Rigby immediately started CPR lifesaving measures–including deploying an AED they had recently learned to use. The AED helped the officers provide care until fire department paramedics arrived on scene minutes later.
A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that communities with comprehensive AED programs that include CPR and AED training for rescuers have achieved survival rates of nearly 40 percent for cardiac arrest victims.
Here in Mendocino County we are extremely lucky to have dedicated and skilled first responders–fire, ambulance and law enforcement personnel–to help in medical emergencies. These professionals are critical to making sure you have the care you need in an emergency.
Next time you visit a school or other government location, please take note of the AED locations. And if you haven’t considered taking a CPR class, this is a great time to do so. Certified training courses include instruction on using AEDs, as well as other important first aid tips.
This training might allow you to be the difference between life and death for a cardiac arrest victim.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police