The residents of the City of Rochester have long enjoyed excellent EMS care provided by Gold Cross Ambulance. Gold Cross has carried defibrillation equipment since 1970. Due to this and other factors, the odds of surviving a cardiac arrest in Rochester has historically been about 30%. When first started deploying defibrillators in squad cars, we wanted to discover whether or not this would improve patient outcomes. There needed to be a method to measure the change
A dichotomy was created – data concerning patients first defibrillated by Gold Cross paramedics (traditional) versus patients first defibrillated by police officers. The chart on the left provides the data.
We were able to increase patient survival from 30% up to 43% - which is coincidentally a 43% improvement. It should be noted that the number of survivors includes only those patients who are discharged from the hospital without substantial life-style impairments. They may have received a variety of medical treatments or procedures but still enjoy reasonably unimpaired lifestyles after discharge. Some of these patients have passed away since the start of this research but most survive more than five years. Some of our first survivors are still with us.
These data only includes those non-trauma patients who were in ventricular fibrillation when the defibrillator was attached. Police officers have saved other lives in Rochester (using CPR and other means) that are not reflected in these statistics simply because officers do serve as first responders and were there to help when needed. The total number of lives saved that might be associated with police officers serving as first responders exceeds 251 going back to 1973.
In another section of this site you may have seen a reference to a 52% survival rate. The 43% rate given above includes all rescues from the first day of deploying AEDs in squad cars. But the processes and equipment we had in place are no match for the system as it has evolved. The program today is better than when we started. If we analyze the data starting from today and work back to where the results become statistically defensible then the survival rate is now about 52%. This is what we believe the odds actually are of surviving a witnessed VF sudden cardiac arrest today in Rochester.