Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Medics Set Record Revival Rate for Cardiac Arrest

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Medics Set Record Revival Rate for Cardiac Arrest

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh paramedics have set a city record for the resuscitation of patients in cardiac arrest, and now officials are weighing strategies for further boosting the survival rate.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said one possibility is encouraging bystanders to start CPR before rescue workers arrive at a call, something believed to have helped Seattle post high resuscitation rates.

For the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, city paramedics responded to more than 300 calls for patients whose hearts had stopped beating. In 16.4 percent of those cases, the patients were resuscitated and ultimately discharged from the hospital, said Clifton Callaway, professor and executive vice chairman of University of Pittsburgh's Department of Emergency Medicine.

The 16.4 percent resuscitation rate is not a national record; Seattle paramedics, for example, have posted such numbers. But the figure is a record for Pittsburgh.

"It is a high-water mark," Dr. Callaway said.

He said Pittsburgh's rates once were as low as 5 percent to 7 percent. Mark Pinchalk, a city paramedic involved in resuscitation research, said the number once was as low as 3 percent.

The data are "important because we're showing we can improve patient outcomes," Tony Weinmann, president of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics, said. He said city firefighters contribute to the rate by arriving before paramedics on some calls and administering initial care.

Seattle Fire Department Capt. Jonathan Larsen, who oversees paramedic operations, said the 16.4 percent resuscitation rate "really is terrific."

The figures are tracked by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network of paramedic services, hospitals and research centers in the United States and Canada. Pitt's Department of Emergency Medicine is a member of the network, and Dr. Callaway is principal investigator here and a co-author of journal articles on consortium research. …

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