Sudden cardiac arrest is the nation's leading cause of death. Over 465,000 Americans die each year from this medical emergency. However, survival rates can improve dramatically by shortening the time between sudden cardiac arrest and life-saving defibrillation through the use of an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest usually results from some underlying form of heart disease. Most cardiac arrests are due to abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the most common arrhythmia that causes cardiac arrest. Ventricular fibrillation is a condition in which the heart's electrical impulses suddenly become chaotic,often without warning. This causes the heart's pumping action to abruptly stop. When cardiac arrest occurs, the victim loses consciousness,has no pulse and stops breathing normally. Death follows within minutes.
Across the nation, it takes an ambulance crew a little over eight minutes to reach victims of cardiac arrest. However, four minutes following a cardiac incident, the chance of a victim's survival decreases by 10 percent with each passing minute. That's why AEDs are so important. With one-button operation, these devices can restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
AEDs are designed to be used by non-medical personnel. An AED analyzes a victim's condition and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock to the heart to reverse sudden cardiac arrest. These machines provide clear voice directions and automatic analysis to enable a person with minimal training to use the device.
The even better news is that having trained lay rescuers equipped with AEDs in settings where large numbers of people congregate saves precious minutes and improves survival rates for cardiac arrest victims.
Humboldt General Hospital AED Program
Humboldt General Hospital has launched a community AED program in an effort to
increase survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest by increasing the availability of automated external defibrillator devices and empowering people to use them through AED/CPR training and education.
Since 2006, HGH's Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD) program, "HeartShare," has succeeded in placing 187 AED units in governmental offices, schools, community centers and high-traffic businesses in Humboldt, Lander and Pershing counties. Additionally, all first responders in Winnemucca (police, sheriff, highway patrol) now carry AEDs in their vehicles along with secondary responders (Winnemucca Volunteer/Rural Volunteer fire departments).
Please click here for a map of AEDs in the Winnemucca and Paradise Valley areas.
EMS personnel have also succeeded in training 22 new response teams in CPR and AED use, bringing the total number of response teams across our service area to more than 50, and EMS offers updates and refresher courses for new hires and recertification every two years or more often as needed for all teams.
Our invitation to you
Our ultimate goal is to make AEDs as accessible as fire extinguishers by distributing units to even more public venues throughout Humboldt County, and facilitating purchase by private businesses and organizations. We also have opportunities for local service clubs and organizations to donate an AED to a community venue. We need our community residents to help one another while the ambulance is on the way and we are here to support your efforts.
Purchase an AED
If you are a private business or organization, please give serious consideration to purchasing an AED for on-site access. For about the same cost as an economical computer, you could potentially save the life of an employee, a client, a customer or even a parishioner. Humboldt General Hospital's AED Program can help facilitate your purchase; we also can provide the following benefits:
Medical direction. Our medical director will provide you with medical protocols, which are
based upon national emergency and cardiac care guidelines.
- Emergency response plan. We will work with your staff to develop and/or review an emergency response plan that will address everything from identifying your communication network to establishing AED policies, procedures and return-to-service protocols following deployment.
Training. HGH paramedics and EMTs will train your in-house response team in CPR
(cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the proper use of the AED. As you hire new employees who will be designated as AED operators, they can be conveniently trained at one of HGH EMS Rescue's regularly scheduled community Heartsaver CPR/AED training sessions.
Quality assurance and support.The HGH AED Program provides timely review and feedback on incident outcomes by reviewing the AED machine clinical data, our ambulance
patient reports, and hospital follow-up information. HGH also will provide recommendations to help identify where more training or procedural changes can benefit your program. The HGH AED Program will keep the records and documents pertaining to your training status.
For more information, please call HeartShare Program Administrator Debbie Whittaker at (775) 623-5222, ext. 1363.
Donate an AED
If your service club or organization is looking for a meaningful way to benefit our community, please consider donating the cost of an AED unit. Upon purchase, that unit will be placed in a high-traffic community location. Your support will help save the lives of local cardiac arrest victims--our friends, neighbors and co-workers--who may not survive a sudden cardiac arrest without your generosity. Please contact HeartShare Program Administrator Debbie Whittaker at (775) 623-5222, ext. 1363 to discuss this life-saving opportunity.
Share information about your AED
If you already have an AED, it is very important that you register your unit with HGH's "HeartShare" program. In the event of an emergency, this will allow a 9-1-1 operator to locate the nearest unit and save crucial time. Please contact HeartShare Program Administrator Debbie Whittaker at (775) 623-5222, ext. 1363 to share your information.