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In Dane County, use of CPR improves heart attack survival rate

As more people learn CPR, the response to individuals in cardiac arrest has increased survival rates.

That was the message Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, along with the Dane County Emergency Management department, got across at a May 24 event to express appreciation to emergency management technicians and paramedics during National EMS Week.

EMS department directors gathered with Parisi, Dane County EMS Director Charles Tubbs and others at the Westport Administration Building to mark EMS week.

According to data from the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival, 58 individuals survived cardiac arrest in Dane County in 2022, the highest number the county has recorded to date, Parisi said.

In 2022, in 62% of those cases, a bystander gave chest compressions before responders could arrive. A press release from the county executive’s office notes that’s a 40% increase from the previous year and nearly double the survival rate nationwide. In Wisconsin, the survival rate averages about 42%, according to the county executive’s office.

Parisi said the team at the 911 call center can also guide bystanders through the process. The same is true for the use of defibrillators.

Dr. Jeff Vanbendegom, medical advisor for Dane County Emergency management, noted that the data is one way to show the impact bystanders who administer CPR can have.

He urged those assembled to take a CPR class, which can take just an hour or two.

“You may be able to save a life,” he said, adding the survival rate doubles when CPR is performed while an ambulance en route.

Other reasons for the increase in cardiac survival rates could be the growing use of Pulse Point, a phone app that signals during medical emergencies so that doctors, nurses and others trained in CPR can respond to provide immediate attention if they are nearby.

Defibrillators, too, are becoming more common in public places. Vanbendegom noted that 1,000 are now in Dane County. Instructions are included with the Automatic External Defibrillators, or AEDs.

“It’s very easy to put two pads on a patient in cardiac arrest,” Vanbendegom said, adding the 911 call center can talk a person through it.

Anyone worried about the liability of administering chest compressions or using a defibrillator can rest assured that Good Samaritan laws are in place to provide protection.

“None of us know when we may experience someone who needs our help,” said Dane County Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs. “That’s why it’s important we keep showing everyone we can how easy it is to give chest compressions that improve chances for that person to survive.”

Parisi expressed his appreciation to those who train to be “ready to respond at a moment’s notice.”

“It’s also a good time to remember how impactful it is for as many of us as possible to be trained on CPR and take a moment to learn where the closest defibrillator is in our workplaces and schools,” Parisi said.

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