Strategic efforts to increase Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates are showing huge promise.

Santa Clara County, ground zero of technology and innovation, has stepped forward with a simple effective solution towards Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).  The Board of Supervisors are funding the deployment of life saving heart defibrillators (AEDs) as these defibrillators are a solution to a huge medical problem. 

According to the American Red Cross, over 350,000 Americans each year die from a SCA.  That is one death every two minutes. SCA can strike suddenly, at anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. The key component in a SCA success is timing.  When an automated external defibrillator (AED) is deployed within the first 4-6 minutes and in combination with CPR, the survival rates of SCA can increase up to 80%.  Conversely, when an AED is not deployed within ten minutes or more after a SCA occurs (or not used at all), the chances of survival is less than 10%. 

So how did Santa Clara County come to this mindset change about onsite AEDs?

Racing Hearts and the Santa Clara County collaborations were established out of a grassroots initiative.  This all started when I experienced a sudden cardiac arrest while climbing up Yosemite's Half Dome.  Thankfully my arrest was aborted.  But after learning about my personal heart risk, I began to realize that there are thousands of people at risk who simply don't know the importance and impact of AEDs. To remedy this, Racing Hearts was created to increase awareness of and empower people to use lifesaving heart defibrillators.  Within three months of advocating, funding for a city-wide AED program was created.  With the success of our city program and with the encouragement and generous guidance from our County Supervisor Joe Simitian, we began a pilot program which grew into our current government, public and private partnership; the Santa Clara County dollar-for-dollar AED matching program. 

When we launched our current program, we thought raising money for the secondary 50% funds would be a challenge.  We were proven wrong as there was a thirst for these programs and funding was not a substantial obstacle.  We were amazed that our program was so successful.  Within one year and three months, we had allocated over 99% of the full $500,000 placing over 410 AEDs in 314 locations! 

In June 2017, the County allocated an additional $500,000 in our AED matching program.  In just two years, we are now projected to deploy over 700 new AEDs along with CPR orientations county-wide, resulting in AEDs being placed in 100% of all public schools in our county. We will have our police cars, athletic centers, and homeless and senior sites, heart protected.  We are set to increase the heart safety of our 1.8M county residents.  Racing Hearts doesn't believe that any other county within CA is as heart safe. 

How effective of an impact are we making?

Racing Hearts, along with out county EMS Agency are tracking AED usage.  We are thrilled to highlight that AEDs have been used 25 times in the first 4 years alone within the Palo Alto Police Cars (out of their 20 AEDs deployed). While we initially started our deployment of AEDs within the schools and athletic centers, we now know that a critical opportunity is with our first responders.  We are so excited to share these results and to give a huge shout out to our local and county government for believing in our mission of saving lives with AEDs.  This is truly an awesome impact! 

Side Fact: Did you know, for every $100 of government spending on heart disease research, less than 25 cents goes toward sudden cardiac arrest research which impacts over 350,000 people yearly.  With so little spent on research, AEDs will continue to be a solution to this huge medical problem. (reference NIH:  https://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx)