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Heart Safe Communities Honored at Fire-Rescue Med

Chesapeake and Harrisonburg, Virginia, Recognized for Innovative Emergency Cardiac Responses

Fairfax, Va. – At Fire-Rescue Med 2021, the IAFC EMS Section the IAFC and the PulsePoint Foundation honored two fire departments with annual Heart Safe Community Awards. The recipients were recognized for their success in improving cardiac arrest survival rates in their communities by developing innovative training, pre-planning, and enhanced community training.

The Chesapeake (Virginia) Fire Department received top honors in the large community category (population of 100,000+) and the Harrisonburg (Virginia) Department of Fire and Life Safety was recognized with the Heart Safe Community Award in the small/mid-sized community category (population under 100,000). 

The award, sponsored by the PulsePoint Foundation [www.pulsepoint.org], recognizes fire-based EMS agencies with creative approaches to improving the quality of out-of-hospital treatment of heart disease, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), and resuscitation efforts. Heart Safe Community Awards recognize demonstrated approaches to improving therapies for patients experiencing cardiac-related emergencies or sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) through access to emergency care, citizen alerting and bystander CPR, high-performance team-based resuscitation, and thorough data collection and quality review processes. 

We are honored and privileged to annually review Heart Safe Community Award nominations from across the nation," said Chief Mike McEvoy, chair of the IAFC EMS Section. "The award recipients demonstrate that fire department investments in training, response, teamwork and citizen alerting can lead to substantial improvements in survival from sudden cardiac arrest in their communities. Like fire prevention efforts, every dollar spent on making a community Heart Safe saves lives." 

Chesapeake Builds Community-Wide Cardiac Response Program 

The Chesapeake Fire Department (CFD) took a multi-faceted approach to improving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in their community. The CFD relies heavily on a community alerting app to activate 75 off-duty firefighters and paramedics, pre-equipped with AEDs in their personal vehicles, and more than 5,500 trained bystanders to respond to cardiac arrests. The CFD also joined the regional medical center’s chest pain review committee to review all STEMI cases from the prior month. The CFD then shares STEMI QA review reports with all crews within 24 hours of their transport. Lastly, the CFD’s initiatives also rely upon dispatcher-assisted CPR, AED-equipped police officers dispatched to all cardiac arrests, and aggressive use of data collection to assist in other QA/QI reviews. 

The Chesapeake Fire Department (CFD) took a multi-faceted approach to improving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in their community. The CFD relies heavily on a community alerting app to activate 75 off-duty firefighters and paramedics, pre-equipped with AEDs in their personal vehicles, and more than 5,500 trained bystanders to respond to cardiac arrests. The CFD also joined the regional medical center’s chest pain review committee to review all STEMI cases from the prior month. The CFD then shares STEMI QA review reports with all crews within 24 hours of their transport. Lastly, the CFD’s initiatives also rely upon dispatcher-assisted CPR, AED-equipped police officers dispatched to all cardiac arrests, and aggressive use of data collection to assist in other QA/QI reviews. 


Harrisonburg Achieves Significant Increase in Resuscitation Successes  

The Harrisonburg Fire Department (HFD) achieved a significant improvement  in  their  resuscitation rates – growing from a less than 10% survival to hospital discharge to 90% on witnessed and 44% on unwitnessed cardiac arrests. One of the HFD’s first steps was to train the public and city employees as well as placing AEDs in city vehicles. With this bystander preparedness level in place, the HFD utilized a community alerting app to broadcast active cardiac arrests. The HFD then implemented full EMD protocols in their 9-1-1 center, a pit crew style of CPR to ensure efficient care, adoption of mechanical CPR devices to minimize interruptions, and usage of rapid push-dose pressors for post-arrest hypotension, among other innovative reforms. Lastly, the HFD works closely with hospitals by transmitting 12-lead ECG data from the scene to the receiving emergency room, charge nurse, and others. In total, these improvements in cardiac arrest response and care have allowed the HFD to make significant strides in growing their community’s cardiac survival rates. 

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) 
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials incidents, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more 

About the PulsePoint Foundation 
PulsePoint is a 501(c)(3) public non-profit foundation based in the San Francisco Bay area. Through the use of location-aware mobile devices, PulsePoint is building applications that work with local public safety agencies to improve communication with citizens and professional emergency responders, increase civic engagement and encourage the community to help reduce the millions of annual deaths from sudden cardiac arrest. Learn more at pulsepoint.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. The free app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play

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