Local News

Wake County Looks To Outfit Patrol Cars With Portable Defibrillators

Posted August 26, 2004

— Every year 250,000 people die from cardiac arrest. If you live in Wake County, your chances of surviving are better than most.

It is not a matter of new techniques or technology. In fact, common defibrillators are getting much of the credit. It is how they are used that is making a difference.

In emergencies, minutes matter -- especially during cardiac arrest.

If no CPR and no defibrillation are provided, a person's chance of survival decreases 10 percent each minute.

"Studies have shown if you can get defibrillation to a patient in the first four minutes, their chances of surviving and going home dramatically increases," firefighter Todd Furr said.

In Wake County, every ambulance and fire truck has a portable defibrillator.

The average response time for Raleigh firefighters is under three minutes. That is the reason Wake County's resuscitation rate from ventricular fribrillation arrest is 21 percent. That is three times higher than the national average, according to Dr. Brent Myers, director of Wake County's Emergency Medical Services system.

Last year, Stuart Thompson, 38, was working out at North Ridge County Club when he suddenly collapsed.

"I dropped and was shaking. People thought I was having a seizure," he said.

Thompson was in cardiac arrest. When an EMS crew arrived, they used the defibrillator the country club had on site.

"I was dead when EMC arrived," Thompson said. "They shocked me three times and revived me with a defibrillator"

Wake County would like to see its survival rate increase to the 30 percent range and is now looking at putting portable defibrillators in patrol cars.

"We feel like we should emphasize first getting a defibrillator to someone's home as many ways as we can," said.

Since police can generally respond within two to three minutes, the chances of surviving cardiac arrest in the county could get even better.

Wake County has applied for a federal grant that would help put more than 500 defibrillators in patrol cars countywide.

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