'Shockingly Simple' Program Saving Lives in Georgia
Puckett EMS, a multistate provider of emergency and nonemergency ambulance and medical services, has been making a huge push over the last several years to place as many AEDs in public spots as it can.
Since 2009, Puckett EMS has placed over 75 AEDs and provided first aid/AED training to more than 2,500 citizens, with a total impact of over 113,600 citizens. The agency was recently recognized by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners and at the state capitol for the program, which is referred to as Shockingly Simple.
Puckett EMS serves as the contracted 9-1-1 provider for parts of Cobb County, Walker County and Dade County and provides backup 9-1-1 service to Paulding and Douglas counties as well as several counties in southeast Tennessee.
Puckett EMS responds to more than 56,000 calls a year, including 9-1-1 emergencies and nonemergencies. Since 2010 it has received multiple local, county, regional, state and national awards for excellence in service, trauma, patient care, clinical expertise, community engagement and investment. It is one of only five ambulance companies in metro Atlanta to have received Gold Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS).
Shockingly Simple is an awareness campaign designed to equip counties, citizens and businesses in the communities with the knowledge and understanding needed during a cardiac emergency.
Puckett conducts over 25 school health and career fair presentations each year, in addition to leading senior services networking associations. Its members serve on hospital boards as well as the local Chamber of Commerce board.
Puckett EMS has donated AEDs to local businesses, schools, senior centers and parks where the need is great, including the Mansour Center in Marietta, Ga., and several assisted-living senior facilities. Purchasing power lets the service reduce the cost from over $2,000 to around $950 for an AED and alarm cabinet.
The agency recently placed AEDs in the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, throughout the city of Powder Springs (14,400 citizens), at the Dogwood Golf & Country Club (33,000 rounds of golf per year) and at Boy Scouts of America facilities.
In 2013 Governor Nathan Deal signed S.B. 212, which now requires CPR and AED instruction in the state’s high schools. Puckett EMS paramedic Dennis Kelly was instrumental in this effort through lobbying state legislators and organizing EMTs and paramedics to volunteer to teach CPR/AED at local schools.
Meeting a Need
As a major provider of EMS services, Puckett EMS sees both the positive results when AEDs are present and the negative effects when they are not. It is a life-or-death matter to ensure the heart resumes pumping within the first 4 minutes of the onset of a cardiac arrest.
The Shockingly Simple program meets a critical public need:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States;
- Cardiovascular disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined;
- While 1 in 31 American women die from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 will die from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association;
- Nearly 750,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year;
- About 610,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year—1 in every 4 deaths;
- Direct and indirect costs of heart disease cost nearly $320.1 billion, which includes health expenditures and lost productivity;
- Heart attacks are the No. 1 reason for sudden cardiac arrest;
- Most sudden cardiac arrest events happen out of the hospital, mainly at home or in public places;
- Research shows rapid defibrillation is the single most important factor affecting survival from sudden cardiac arrest in adults;
- For every minute a patient is in cardiac arrest, chances of survival decrease by 10%, and after 7 minutes without CPR, survival is unlikely.
Victims of sudden cardiac arrest rarely survive. Why? Most victims do not have immediate access to prompt, definitive treatment. Too much time elapses before the defibrillator arrives—if it arrives at all.
When sudden cardiac arrest victims in ventricular fibrillation receive defibrillation therapy within the first minute or two after collapse, more than 90% survive to be discharged from the hospital.
Potential to Save Lives
Puckett EMS is already seeing the results of its Shockingly Simple program. In 2009, local survival rates from cardiac arrest were at approximately 14%. They are currently at 28%. Most urban cities across America have survival rates in the single digits.
Despite these encouraging numbers, there's still progress to make. King County, Wash., leads the nation with a survival rate of around 46% and has recently been recognized as having the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the world.
Placing AEDs in workplaces has the potential to save lives. Before purchasing an AED, check into state requirements for registration, prescriptions and medical oversight.
Small-business owners may have a fear of liability in providing an AED or CPR in their workplace. Many states, including Georgia, have Good Samaritan laws that cover bystanders for doing the best job they can with CPR and AED use, no matter the outcome. While these laws may not stop someone from suing, they can keep a suit from going forward.
Puckett EMS is proud of the difference it's making in the community and encourages like-minded agencies to pursue similar programs with the ultimate goal of saving lives.
Jim McMichen is director of marketing and corporate communications for Puckett EMS.