Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Restarting hearts: new machine could make big difference for London cardiac patients (UK)
Middlesex-London EMS crews are already among the best in the country at saving cardiac-arrest victims, but new equipment they're testing could see that success rate climb. The national average for survival of cardiac arrest is a terrifying 10%. Middlesex-London paramedics, however, boast a 30% survival rate, superintendent of education Jay Loosley said. "We're seeing the highest rates of survival from cardiac arrest that we've ever seen," he said. Loosley said paramedics have been striving to minimize the crucial few seconds between shocking the patient with a defibrillator and the resumption of CPR. "The longer you're off the chest doing something, the more the chance of survival goes down," said. "We're trying to focus on hands off the chest, shock him, and hands back on the chest. Some of our medics are doing it in about one or two seconds, which is amazing." Upping the odds is a machine that performs CPR automatically, freeing the paramedic to offer more treatment to the patient. Crews are in the midst of a three-month trial with the machine. "It provides mechanical chest compressions to cardiac arrest victims," Loosley said. "The benefit is it can allow paramedics to have their hands free. They don't need to be on the chest and it's always perfect.” Currently, three of them are being tested, but the cost is prohibitive at $12,000 apiece. Loosley's a fan, though. "When you stop CPR to do anything, even for a few seconds, that's when you see your (chance of) survival go down," he said. "With this, someone is always on the chest."