City/county program aims to save lives
More than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, according to the Dallas-based American Heart Association. However, if a person receives immediate CPR and an electric shock from a defibrillator within three to five minutes of going into cardiac arrest, survival rates average 48 to 74 percent.
Recognizing the value of defibrillators in saving lives, San Diego has launched a regional program to place automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in public venues. (An AED is designed for use by non-medical personnel to deliver an electric shock to the heart to stop sudden cardiac arrest and to restore normal heart rhythm.) Project Heart Beat is a cooperative program that involves the cityÕs Fire &Life Safety Services, San Diego County, the American Heart Association and Irvine, Calif.-based Cardiac Science. It aims to make AEDs as accessible as fire extinguishers throughout the community.
Last month, Project Heart Beat received $100,000 from the city to purchase and place 40 AEDs in lifeguard towers, lifeguard vehicles, recreation centers, libraries and other city facilities. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has appropriated $250,000 to purchase and distribute the units in county facilities.
San Diego Medical Services Enterprise, a public-private partnership that provides 911 paramedic and medical transportation services for the city, is helping implement the program. The organization provides the AED devices from Cardiac Science, physician medical oversight, training and certification, and complete program maintenance.
For more information about Project Heart Beat, visit the San Diego Fire &Life Safety Services Web site at www.sannet.gov/fireandems/911/pad.shtml.