Santa Rosa County first in Panhandle to participate in CARES program

Special to Gannett
CARES — the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival — was established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University to improve survival from cardiac arrest through out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) data collection in the United States. Communities that join CARES commit to entering cardiac arrest data from EMS agencies and hospitals into a national database to track their performance confidentially over time and improve the quality of patient care—and ultimately prevent needless deaths.

Santa Rosa County 911 dispatchers and Lifeguard Ambulance are the first in the Panhandle of Florida to participate in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) program.

Every year, more than 300,000 people experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the United States. Unfortunately, many of these patients do not survive. By participating the CARES program, Santa Rosa County will now be able to measure performance and identify how to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

“The goal of SRC 911 is to have ‘hands on chest’ within 120 seconds of receiving a 911 call regarding a cardiac event,” said Natashia Duke, 911 assistant coordinator for training and quality assurance, certified Florida paramedic and CARES program coordinator for the county. “For the month of September, our dispatchers had ‘hands on chest’ in 119 seconds, which is the best time out of all reporting agencies in the state of Florida.”

SRC 911 dispatchers participated in two days of high-performance CPR training in October to help them better communicate CPR instructions during 911 calls to sustain the patient until Lifeguard Ambulance or a fire department arrives to take over. The patient has a far greater chance of recovery from a cardiac arrest event when CPR is administered quickly.

“When our residents call 911, we take a very aggressive stance on getting ‘hands on chest’ for CPR,” said Kevin Sowell, 911/QI coordinator. “Our dispatchers are the first-first responders and are highly-trained to quickly identify a cardiac event and provide CPR instructions to the caller. It’s vitally important for everyone to know how to perform CPR and call 911 as soon as they recognize a problem.”

“It’s important that we’re participating in the CARES program because resuscitation academy and high-performance CPR has been shown to tremendously improve the chances of patient survival and patient returning to their home,” added Dr. Kim Landry, Santa Rosa County Public Safety medical director. “The fact that Santa Rosa County is the first in the panhandle to participate in this high-performance CPR is a testament to how strongly we feel about the importance of teaching CPR to the community.”

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