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February 2004 EMS Wire Service

Public-Access Defib Shows Promise

Public-access defibrillation works, according to the results of the largest-ever clinical trial examining outcomes of PAD programs.

The number of sudden cardiac arrest victims who survived SCAs in public locations approximately doubled when lay persons were trained to perform CPR and use AEDs on them, data presented at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions show.

For the trial, volunteers in certain public locations across the U.S. and Canada were trained to call 9-1-1 and perform CPR when an SCA event occurred, while those in other places did that but used an AED on the victim as well. The former group produced 15 survivors; the latter group, 29. Previous research suggests SCA survival rates can be as high as 70% if defibrillation occurs within the first 3-5 minutes.

—Medtronic Physio-Control

House Approves E9-1-1 Grants

The House of Representatives passed legislation in November that will help speed technology upgrades at 9-1-1 emergency call centers around the U.S.

H.R. 2898, the E9-1-1 Implementation Act, authorizes federal matching grants to state and local governments for upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, infrastructure and personnel training at public-safety answering points (PSAPs). The bill also establishes a federal 9-1-1 office to facilitate coordination among local, state and federal public-safety officials, and deems states ineligible to receive the grants if they spend revenues from existing telephone-bill surcharges designated for 9-1-1 improvements on other things.

Companion legislation, S. 1250, was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last summer, but at press time had not come before the full Senate for a vote.

—National Volunteer Fire Council

Bill Contains EMS Appropriations

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December included a series of appropriations of interest to EMS providers, including $500,000 for the $50-million-a-year rural EMS equipment and training grant program authorized in 2001 but not funded in 2002.

Other appropriations included almost $40 million each for rural health outreach and rural hospital flexibility grants; almost $24 million for poison control; $20 million for EMS for Children; $11 million for rural and community access to AEDs; $9.4 million for traumatic brain injury; $8.445 million for state offices of rural health; and almost $3.5 million for trauma care.

At press time, the Senate had not yet acted on companion legislation.

—Gary Wingrove

Heart Attack Warnings for Women

Women show different early warning signs preceding heart attacks than men do, a study published in the November 4, 2003 issue of Circulation reports. Conspicuously absent from their symptoms is the most commonly anticipated heart attack indicator, chest pain.

In studying 515 women who'd had heart attacks within the previous six months, researchers found that fatigue, trouble sleeping and shortness of breath were the most-reported barometers of impending heart attack. Ninety-five percent of study participants experienced new symptoms in the month preceding their heart attacks that went away afterward; of those, 71% reported unusual fatigue, 48% sleep disturbances and 42% shortness of breath. Other common complaints included indigestion (39%) and anxiety (35%). The most frequent acute symptoms were shortness of breath (reported by 58%), weakness (55%) and fatigue (43%).


DHS Streamlines Grant Information

The Department of Homeland Security has launched a "one-stop shop" Web page containing information on training and grants.

The new site,, offers information not only on DHS grants, but on grants from throughout the federal government, including Health and Human Services public health preparedness grants, Department of Justice counterterrorism grants, and Environmental Protection Agency water-security grants.

The site also lists federal antiterrorism training available for state and local emergency providers, searchable by course title, topic or agency/department sponsor.

—National Volunteer Fire Council

ECRI Updates Sharps-Safety Guide

Nearly every sharps-safety technology and needlestick-prevention device on the market is identified and evaluated in the newly released and enhanced second edition of ECRI's Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention.

Updating and expanding on the 2001 original, the second edition of Sharps Safety, developed by ECRI's Health Devices Group, is designed to assist healthcare workers in assessing and selecting protective devices, implementing a facility-wide sharps-safety program and gauging its ongoing effectiveness. It includes brand-name evaluations of more than 90 protective devices for blood collection, injection, IV therapy, surgical and specialized applications; new evaluations of more than 25 products, including introducer and Huber needles; and guidance for containing costs when purchasing needlestick-prevention/ sharps-safety devices.

For more information, see


Philly EMS Sued Over AIDS Patient

EMS providers refused to help a Germantown, PA, man after finding out he had AIDS, a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia alleges.

John Gill Smith called 9-1-1 when he started having chest pains, according to the federal civil-rights lawsuit. Upon arriving at his home and learning of his condition, the suit claims, one paramedic left the house, and another shouted, "Cover your face, or I'm not going to help you." The latter medic reportedly took Smith to a hospital, but would not help him to the ambulance, allow him to lie down in it, or assist him into the hospital emergency department.

The suit, filed on Smith's behalf by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring discrimination against people with the disease. A similar suit filed in 1993 resulted in a settlement and mandatory AIDS education for more than 2,000 city emergency personnel.

—Philadelphia Inquirer

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