Executive - Press Release

Posted on: March 1, 2018

New Castle County achieves historic success in sudden cardiac arrest survival

52 individuals whose heart stopped beating revived by first responders and released from hospital with full functioning in 2017

Follow one woman’s survival story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLO-jC-69qk


New Castle, DE – New Castle County’s emergency medical service saved the lives of a record 52 individuals who returned to normal activity following a sudden – and life threatening - cardiac arrest over the past year, County officials announced today. These 52 individuals, whose hearts had stopped beating, were revived by first responders and transported to the hospital but were discharged back home with normal brain function and a return to normal activity.

"Fifty-two members of our community whose hearts stopped beating have received a new lease on life thanks to our commitment to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival,” said County Executive Matt Meyer. “These lives saved are a testament to the outstanding training and coordination of the New Castle County paramedics and 911 Call Center, the fire service, public safety departments and everyday citizen heroes. This extraordinary effort saved more lives than ever before, giving the gift of life and a brighter future to families across our County.”

Each year 450,000 Americans die suddenly from sudden cardiac arrest, and nationally the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrests experienced outside of a healthcare facility can be as low as 10 percent. Those grim statistics drove New Castle County, which operates Delaware’s largest emergency medical service, to improve cardiac arrest survival through community engagement, improved training and coordination among first responders and better data collection an analysis. The record success achieved in 2017 represents a 33% increase over the 39 successful outcomes in 2016.

To improve sudden cardiac arrest survival, the New Castle County Emergency Medical Services Division established an initiative in 2009 that employed two broad strategies:

  • measuring local emergency medical response performance and using data to inform process improvements (Nationally, most jurisdictions don't adequately measure their performance and in the absence of data about lives saved – and lost – they are less able to identify strategies to improve survival rates.), and
  • making improvements in the way the County’s emergency response system deploys ambulances, police officers, paramedics and fire trucks to medical emergencies and enlisting citizen responders on-site to save lives

The County-led initiative focused on four areas of action:

  • 911 Center call takers began directing – not suggesting – civilians at the scene to immediately initiate hands only CPR and call takers remain on the phone to provide direction on how to administer chest compressions until medically-trained staff arrive. Without oxygen pumped from the heart, the brain can survive for only four to six minutes before experiencing significant injury leading to death. Immediate CPR can give a patient a 3 times greater chance of survival.
  • Law enforcement officers, who may be the first to arrive on scene, are enlisted to assist with CPR and provided training on use of an AED before trained medical staff arrive. Deploying an AED has been shown to give a patient a 2 times greater chance of a successful outcome.
  • Members of the fire service and basic life support responders remain on the scene after paramedics arrive to assist with cardiac arrest case management and to ensure uninterrupted delivered of high performance CPR with sufficient personnel to rotate every two minutes until paramedics stabilize a patient for hospital transport.

In 2009 New Castle County joined 26 jurisdictions who report pre-hospital cardiac arrest data into a national cardiac arrest registry. An analysis of that data revealed that New Castle County was performing above the average of reporting jurisdictions, but identified opportunities for improvement.

“New Castle County has achieved successful outcomes in sudden cardiac arrest and today is a leader among the jurisdictions who report sudden cardiac arrest data to the national database, with a survival rate ahead of the average of the reporting jurisdictions and continuing to improve,” said New Castle County Emergency Medical Services Chief Lawrence Tan. “In medical emergencies where life hangs in the balance and every minute counts, the dedication, skill and commitment to continuous improvement exhibited by our paramedics and our partners have saved many lives.” The national database currently includes participation from 61 communities in 18 states, 24 statewide registries, more than 1,400 EMS agencies and more than 1,800 hospitals.

New Castle County’s Emergency Medical Services Division has offered community CPR classes to train citizen responders to be aware of the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and teach basic CPR skills. Additionally, it has facilitated two Delaware Resuscitation Academies where staff from basic and advanced life support EMS agencies, law enforcement, and even hospital emergency department personnel have received specialized training on the administration of high performance CPR, along with instruction on the gathering and application of data on each cardiac arrest incident to continue ongoing improvement. Because nearly all cardiac arrests draw responses from multiple agencies, the course focuses on developing a cohesive team when providing emergency medical care to a patient while practicing scenarios based on real life experiences.

This week, New Castle County held its 6th Annual Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor’s Reunion, which resulted in the issue of 399 commendations to civilians, emergency communications staff, paramedics, basic life support personnel and law enforcement officers who were involved last year in the response to a sudden cardiac arrest patient in New Castle County that resulted in the patient’s successful discharge from the hospital. Among the honorees were 32 civilians who received the Citizen’s Lifesaving Commendation for assisting in the response to a sudden cardiac arrest situation, resulting in the saving of a life.

Learn more about sudden cardiac arrest and get CPR tips at http://nccde.org/348/CPR-Information.


Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462

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