“Call to Shock” Time

"Call to Shock" time

What does Sudden Cardiac Arrest and the following cities have in common:  Seattle, Houston, Boston, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Rochester?

These are cities that were among the first that were willing to take an honest and careful look at their EMS response time and began using new technology and creative approaches to measure and shave seconds from that time. The resulting statistics reflect more lives saved.

The Mayo Clinic has documented research that shows that a victim of SCA has about 6 minutes to live.  A shock with an AED (automatic external defibrillator) within that time usually will restore the heart’s rhythm and save that life.

The Call to Shock time reality is that many cities’ response time can be much higher than the reported 6.8 minute average.   There are many factors that cause delays in the victim receiving life-saving care.  These factors range from confusion and misunderstanding between the 911 caller and the dispatcher which is understandable in an emergency situation, to delays in getting to the exact location of the victim once the EMS arrives at the address.  A good analogy is “if your house was on fire, do you want to know the time it takes for them to get to the scene, or the time it takes to start the water hoses on your house”?  Were it not a “life or death” situation, these delays might be acceptable.  The fact is that telling a family member that has lost someone precious to them life-saving care was not delivered in time to save their loved one’s life due to confusion and misunderstanding is unacceptable.

Defibrillation Statistics

One key change that Rochester, NY implemented and several cities have modeled is that they armed their police officers with defibrillators.  When a Sudden Cardiac Arrest call goes out, the call goes out with the same urgency of “Officer Down”.  Every officer on the street hears the call and because they are already on patrol, they may often be the first responder and are prepared to begin life-saving care immediately.

Every year, legislation mandates that AED’s be present in more settings because they save lives.  If asked, most people today know what an AED is and basically what it can do.  More and more companies, individuals and industries are choosing to provide an AED on their premises even if it is not mandated because it gives them peace of mind and a sense of control in saving the lives of those around them.

Here are some facts:

When someone is in SCA, if an AED is used within 6 minutes, it is highly likely that their life will be saved.

AED’s are affordable and simple to use.  Lay people to trained responders use them on a daily basis.  Good Samaritan Laws encourage lay people to step forward and use an AED and provide them protection under the law.

AED’s are already present in many public access settings from arenas to malls to doctor’s offices and in schools. The AHA instructs that the AED be accessible by someone within 90 seconds in these settings.  Many states dictate that the first AED a school has must be placed outside of the gymnasium.

The most important piece of information to remember is that a person in SCA is in a race against the seconds ticking by on the clock.  They will most likely be saved if they receive the life-saving shock from an AED within 6 minutes of the SCA.  Optimizing survival rates means having AED’s for EMS, Fire and Police, as well as being available in settings such as football and sports fields, in remote settings, and for individuals that are high risk.  Availability, accessibility and use may save the life of someone you love.