Medtronic Foundation Announces New HeartRescue Project Partnerships

The Medtronic Foundation has awarded $3.75 million in grants to two new partners -- the Illinois HeartRescue Collaborative through the University of Illinois and American Medical Response (AMR) -- to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in Illinois and in select communities served by AMR in the next five years.

The new partners will join several of the nation's leading resuscitation experts at the Universities of Arizona, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Washington and Duke University in developing and expanding sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) response systems. Each partner is working to improve SCA survival rates by 50 percent in the next five years by implementing measurable, evidence-based best practices among citizen bystanders, pre-hospital responders such as police, fire and ambulance, and in hospitals.

SCA is a leading cause of death in United States, and according to the American Heart Association, strikes nearly 400,000 Americans each year. Overall U.S. rates of SCA survival have not improved in more than 30 years, hovering around 8 percent.

The Illinois HeartRescue Collaborative, a partnership between the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Service System, the Chicago Fire Department, Chicago EMS System and the Illinois Department of Public Health, will work together to develop a statewide network for cardiac arrest reporting and quality improvement. As part of the effort, this volunteer network of hospitals, EMS and community leaders will target geographical areas in both rural and urban Latino and African American communities in Illinois, who will help to promote cultural competency strategies that encourage, expand and support community-initiated grassroots efforts aimed at improving SCA survival rates.

"The disparities in SCA survival rates are both a major challenge and an opportunity for the people of Illinois," says University of Illinois's Dr. Terry VandenHoek, who will serve as project lead in Illinois. "We are poised to change those rates. We are looking forward to the impact we can make through our partnerships and with the timely support from the HeartRescue Project."

AMR is the largest provider of EMS in the United States and annually responds to 25,000 sudden cardiac arrests in 2,000 communities. The grant was specifically made to AMR's nonprofit education foundation to implement local community initiatives known to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival. AMR will provide in-kind support in the form of oversight, manpower and resources to ensure that those community initiatives are supported, executed and sustained.

"SCA touches a large number of people within a variety of geographies," says Dr. Ed Racht, AMR's chief medical officer. "Given our reach, we embrace the responsibility to promote a model system of care for SCA, bringing resources and data to together to support the mission of improving SCA survival."

Launched in March 2011, the HeartRescue Project is designed to improve how SCA is recognized, treated and measured in the United States. The original five HeartRescue Project partners have made notable progress in the inaugural year. The new HeartRescue Project partners will join the five states already working to help educate people everywhere about the effects of SCA and the importance of timely bystander response. All partners are working toward developing a network of EMS providers and hospitals that agree to collect the same data, and are starting to put the data into a shared system.

"These partners have accepted a shared challenge to improve cardiac arrest survival by 50 percent over five years in their geographies," says Joan Mellor, the Medtronic Foundation's HeartRescue program manager. "Across states, they are busy developing and expanding sudden cardiac arrest response systems. In just a little over a year, all five states are covering at least 50 percent of their population in terms of outcomes data collection. That's a big step in the right direction."

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