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First Responders Work to Improve Cardiac Outcomes

Nearly once a week, the Anderson Township Fire and Rescue Department responds to an individual in cardiac arrest. As a leading cause of death in the United States, a victim’s chances of survival improve when they immediately receive CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) from someone nearby. 

In recent years the department has taken a deep dive into many factors surrounding cardiac arrest management, creating a multifaceted approach to increase a victim’s likelihood of survival. This includes measuring performance, community involvement, adding defibrillators to Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office deputies’ cars, and examining department operations. 

“We realize there are numerous factors that impact the outcome of a cardiac arrest,” noted Battalion Chief Chris Kasperczyk. “We want to use the information to make a difference with factors we can control,” he said. 

Kasperczyk said the department now measures its outcomes through the CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) program.  “We can’t improve what we don’t measure, so we had to establish a baseline to provide direction. This registry will push us to constantly improve our performance,” he said. 

Increasing bystander knowledge of CPR is another goal of the CARES program. Besides restarting the department’s CPR class program this July, a series of pop-up classes explaining the “Hands-Only CPR” method is planned.

“The goal of the pop-up site is to demonstrate how simple it is to make a difference in someone’s life and to make people comfortable with doing chest compressions,” Kasperczyk said. 

“About 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes,” noted Chief Rick Martin. “That is why it is vital for family members to learn CPR to potentially make a difference for someone you love.”  “Hands-Only CPR can be learned quickly and uses musical examples that help people remember the correct compression rate when trained to the beat of a familiar song,” he added. 

Kasperczyk said recent example of bystander intervention made a difference in a stranger’s life. The bystander, who has been CPR certified for 20 years, provided chest compressions at a park until EMS crews arrived. 

Kasperczyk said Anderson’s paramedics now have more defined roles during such an event. “The care that we provide on the scene is similar to the care a cardiac arrest patient would receive in the ER,” he said.  “We have made great strides for our patients.”