West Covina Fire fighters receive the Advance Resuscitation Training (ART) Tuesday at the West Covina Fire Station No. 2. (Watchara Phomicinda/Staff Photographer)



California Fire Department Saves Lives With New Technology

   Juliette Funes, Staff Writer Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune



WEST COVINA - The West Covina Fire Department has launched a pilot program that uses new technology to improve the survival rates of patients in cardiac arrest.

The Fire Department is partnering with UCLA, UC San Diego and the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to conduct an Advanced Resuscitation Training pilot program for its 57 firefighter/paramedics and first-responders.

The program integrates the use of See-Thru CPR technology with a Zoll cardiac monitor, which reduces the need to stop compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation and increases survival rates by showing the heart rhythm on the machine's screen.

It is the only department in the county conducting the program, which began last month.

"This will truly save a lot of lives in this city," said program creator Baxter Larmon, the director of the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

With the new method, the department expects to double or quadruple the patient's survival rate by using a pit crew approach, allowing numerous paramedics to work on the patient without having to repeatedly stop to check the patient's heart rhythm.

The device also has a memory card and it can see what type of CPR is being done in the field.

"It's not just CPR. It's like CPR on crack," said Marianne Newby, the department's nurse educator. "It's constant with no stopping because of the technology of the monitor."

This is the first formal program that officials hope will increase survival rates by 300 percent, Fires Captain Esteban Rodriguez said.

"Our department is trying to get out there to better the outcome of the patient," Rodriguez said of the new technologies.

In 2011, the West Covina Fire Department received 110 calls for service for patients in cardiac arrest. About half were determined to be dead on arrival. The other half were transported to local hospitals.

Of the half who were hospitalized, five were admitted into an intensive care unit, three of them walked out of the hospital without neurological issues, and the others likely died in the emergency room, Fire Department officials said.

"In this community, we have the potential of getting that number beyond three," Newby said. "We can get between 12 and 20 to walk out of the hospital intact."

Newby recommended West Covina to be the first to receive training.

"(Emergency Medical Services) and training is really important to them," she said. "They're very open to new research and research projects. They're very proactive with EMS and not all fire departments are."

The next fire departments to start using the technology are Redondo Beach and Monterey Park.

626-962-8811, ext. 2446

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