Henderson, Nevada, the state’s second-largest city, has developed a comprehensive program to respond to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incidents. The result? The city of more than 265,000 residents has one of the nation’s best survival rates (50 percent) for victims of SCA caused by ventricular fibrillation.
This year Henderson was designated a HeartSafe Community through Nevada Project HeartBeat, a nonprofit that encourages awareness of SCA and helps communities organize response plans that include cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and automated external defibrillator (AED) availability.
“The leaders in Henderson are taking the next steps, both in Emergency Medical Services and in public safety,” said Julie Redding, president of Nevada Project Heartbeat. “They are involving the public to recognize the signs of when someone is in distress, to employ CPR, and to use AEDs.”
The designation requires that cities address all of the elements of the American Heart Associations “chain of survival” — a system designed to maximize the chance that someone stricken with SCA will survive and be returned to health.
Henderson’s “chain of survival” includes:
- 911 operators prepared to instruct callers on handling a SCA incident
- Police trained in CPR and police cars equipped with AEDs
- A public access defibrillation program that equips city buildings and public areas with AEDs
- A new AED loan program for sports events and other public events
- A CPR training program for residents, schools, medical offices, and community groups
- Emergency responders trained to provide pre-hospital assessment of patients, leading to quicker diagnosis and treatment of SCA
- Ambulances with monitoring equipment that send advance information to the hospital
- Hospitals prepared to offer SCA treatments such as inducted hypothermia
Henderson EMS Division Chief Scott Vivier is particularly proud of the AED loan program for sports events — a first for Nevada cities. Henderson officials were approached by a group of mothers who became concerned after a child suffered SCA on a soccer field.
“There was no AED at the park,” Vivier says. “Fortunately, there was a doctor on the scene who did CPR, and a fire unit with an AED arrived within two minutes.”
The child was successfully resuscitated, but concerned parents went on to establish the nonprofit Adam’s Heart and work with Henderson officials. Vivier’s team consulted with states where loan programs were in place, and designed a similar solution for Henderson.
“Before people check out the AED for an event, we give them a one-hour class in CPR and AED use. But once they take it with them, anyone at the event can use that AED,” Vivier says.
Henderson currently has more than 125 AEDs in city buildings, fire department vehicles, and police cars, in addition to more sophisticated defibrillators in ambulances. Vivier says the EMS team is working with the City Council on an ordinance to make it easy for businesses in the community to get AEDs and become part of a public access AED network. Henderson is also looking at ways to install permanent AEDs in community parks.
Cardiac Science is the current supplier of AEDs for Henderson, providing Powerheart® G3 Plus units. Cardiac Science is also the preferred provider of AEDs for Nevada Project HeartBeat.
“We encourage cities to look closely at the Cardiac Science Powerheart G3 AED, in particular for public access defibrillation,” Redding says. “Cardiac Science offers the best technologies and the best customer service, and they’ve really thought about what it takes to make a device specifically for the public access world.”