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August 2004 EMS Wire Service

Study Identifies SCA Causes

A study of more than six million U.S. military recruits has yielded “revolutionary” insights into why young Americans suddenly go into cardiac arrest and die.

The primary causes, according to a team of researchers led by Dr. Robert Eckart at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, are cardiac arrhythmia and a structural problem in the coronary arteries.

Eckart’s group collected data on 6.3 million military recruits over 25 years. During this period, there were 127 sudden cardiac deaths among the group. “We found that the leading cause of sudden cardiac death was a coronary artery problem,” Eckart told HealthDay. “This anomaly is when one of the coronary arteries takes off from the aorta in an abnormal fashion.” The second-leading cause of these deaths was arrhythmias.

Based on these findings, Eckart recommends the use of electrocardiograms, rather than echocardiograms, in young people complaining of chest pain. The EKG will detect abnormal electrical activity, whereas the echo looks for abnormal heart muscle.


Chiefs Unveil Legislative Feature

In an effort to keep its members updated and speaking with a unified voice on relevant government activities, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has unveiled a new section on its website that will provide ongoing coverage of, and official opinions on, regulatory and legislative issues of interest to the fire service.

The IAFC’s Legislative Action Alert will contain a one-page “Hot Sheet” that summarizes prominent issues and provides talking points that can be used by issue advocates, as well as a “Legislative Issues Discussion” section that evaluates each issue in greater detail. The Hot Sheet is available to all site visitors; the Legislative Issues Discussion is available only to IAFC members. The IAFC’s website is


Best Terror Practices Come to Web

A new website created by the Department of Homeland Security, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism and consultant DFI International offers a forum by which state and local homeland security planners and responders can share lessons learned and best practices for improving preparation for, prevention of, response to and recovery from acts of terrorism.

The site, (for Lessons Learned Information Sharing), is aimed at improving homeland security by providing sources of frontline expertise that can be tapped by others. Content is developed in consultation with subject-matter experts and practitioners, and undergoes extensive peer review and validation before publication.

LLIS will also serve as a repository of relevant documents and events, including a catalog of after-action reports from major incidents. It will also feature a directory of homeland security officials and responders at the federal, state and local levels. Membership is required for access.

—Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

Four From SF Earn Valor Award

Four members of the San Francisco Fire Department’s Surf Rescue Unit are the winners of Moore Medical’s annual Valor Award, which honors EMS professionals for heroism in the line of duty.

Jonathan Baxter, Beth Goudreau, Elizabeth Leahy and Jason Woo saved two of three men whose boat capsized off a San Francisco beach in February. Goudreau and Leahy swam more than 300 feet through 12-foot waves to secure two of the men; Woo assisted in getting them back to shore, where additional EMS personnel took over. Baxter swam farther out to check on the capsized 30-foot sailboat and attempt to locate the missing third sailor. A search and rescue mission that lasted until nightfall failed to locate him.

The four will receive a commemorative crystal and $250 each, and their unit will receive $1,000 from Moore Medical.

First responders, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, rescue workers and other emergency professionals are among the prehospital caregivers eligible for the award, first given in 2003.

—Moore Medical

DoD Chooses Pitt for Tech Center

The University of Pittsburgh will host the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) new Technology Transfer and Commercialization National Center of Excellence for First Responder Technologies (NCEFRT), Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha announced in June. NCEFRT will work with university research centers, DoD research laboratories, and regional industry in western Pennsylvania to assist the commercialization of Pitt and DoD lab research, helping to meet the technology needs of emergency-services personnel. Its goal is to get research findings incorporated into commercially viable products that are available to first responders. NCEFRT will support the journey from laboratory to market by conducting initial technology reviews, market analysis and identification of potential industry partners.

—University of Pittsburgh

Single Procedures, Better Results?

Multiple lifesaving procedures are less effective when performed simultaneously than when performed individually, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh suggested at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s annual meeting in May.

The investigators studied the effectiveness of artificial ventilation by prehospital providers using basic lifesaving techniques. They found that as the complexity of resuscitation increased, basic lifesaving performance decreased.

Using full-torso manikins, 36 providers, tested in pairs, randomly completed three sets of scenarios: a nonbreathing patient with a pulse; a pulseless patient with an AED; and a pulseless patient without an AED. The manikins, which were programmed to generate a carotid pulse, were monitored for number of ventilations, ventilation rate and capacity of air exchange, number of chest compressions, and compression depth.

Among the test subjects, rescue breathing alone provided more correct ventilations than CPR or CPR plus AED; fewer ventilations were delivered during CPR and CPR plus AED; and more compressions were delivered with CPR alone than with CPR plus AED.

Further diminutions might occur, the researchers concluded, if advanced lifesaving skills were factored in.

—University of Pittsburgh

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