Armed with AEDs, police save lives by cutting response time

DALLAS, Aug. 13 In communities where police are equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), people who have a sudden cardiac arrest have a better chance at survival, according to new research reported in Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association.

Police in Miami-Dade County, Fla., equipped with AEDs cut response time to sudden cardiac arrest victims by almost three minutes, the study shows. During the first 10 minutes after someone has a cardiac arrest, every minute saved means about a 10 percent increase in relative survival, says Robert J. Myerburg, M.D., director of the cardiovascular division and American Heart Association chair of cardiovascular research at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Over the last several decades, community cardiac arrest survival efforts have been concentrated on the fire-rescue model, in which teams train in cardiac resuscitation skills that include using AEDs. However, data from large metropolitan areas with heavy traffic congestion and from rural areas showed low overall survival rates as low as 1 to 2 percent.

The results led Myerburg and his colleagues to consider expanding the use of AEDs to include police. "The theory is that police are already on the road when a call comes in, so there is a potential for faster response," he says.

The 9-1-1 emergency dispatch system in Miami-Dade was re-configured so that both police and fire/rescue were dispatched to certain medical emergency calls. Using this dual-dispatch mode, the time from the call to first responder arrival was 4.88 minutes compared to the historical response time of 7.64 minutes. With the dual-responder system, help arrived on the scene of a cardiac arrest in less than five minutes for 41 percent of calls, compared to 14 percent for the standard fire-rescue calls.

From February 1, 1999 to April 30, 2001, Miami-Dade 9-1-1 dispatchers received almost 2.25 million calls, 56,321 of which were

Contact: Bridgette McNeill
American Heart Association

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