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The Cardiac Ready Communities Program began in 2015 when the Montana EMS and Trauma Systems section of the DPHHS was awarded a $3.2 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Trust is involved with improving cardiac survival in the seven central rural states in the United States. Currently, only 5% of people who suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest survive. With the initiatives implemented by the Cardiac Ready Communities Program, we hope to see survival rates in MT reach 30% to 50%. With this grant, the Cardiac Ready Communities Program has launched several initiatives to improve cardiac arrest survival across MT.

First has been the distribution of Lucas 2 Chest Compression Devices to EMS services and hospital ERs across the state. This distribution has been done in a systematic way via EMS regions. Of the six EMS regions in the state, three have received the device and have them implemented in their communities. Region 3 (north-east MT) will receive their devices March 4-5; Region 5 (central MT) will receive their devices April 28-30; and Region 1 (western MT) will receive their devices in June. The Lucas 2 device replaces the need for a medic to do chest compressions during patient resuscitation. This improves patient profusion and decreases the risk of injury to the EMT. In conjunction with the Lucas 2 device, services are also trained in the concepts of High Performance CPR (HP CPR). HP CPR improves survivability by maintaining profusion and improving the overall care of the patient. Ultimately, there will be over 220 Lucas 2 devices across the state with every EMT and hospital staff person trained in HP CPR.

The Second initiative is the Cardiac Ready Community Project, which encourages every community in the State of Montana to become more prepared for a cardiac emergency. Using a gap analysis tool from the program, communities can see where they need to strengthen the Cardiac Chain of Survival. A community coalition can then begin to address those areas that need to be strengthened and to make sure every link is firmly connected to the next. The Cardiac Ready Communities program provides tools and resources to help communities achieve their goals. The analysis tool can be found at: http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/EMSTS/cardiacready. Program staff are available to answer questions and help communities get started on this initiative.

Third, the Cardiac Ready Communities Program has created the Montana HeartRescue Program.  The HeartRescue program is an effort to increase to 50% the number of people in a community who know Hands-only CPR. MT HeartRescue provides CPR-in-a-box totes with all the supplies (manikins, videos, lesson plans, etc.) for anyone in the community to hold a CPR class to learn Hands-only CPR. The class lasts about 30 minutes and can be taken anywhere – schools, churches, businesses.  The MT HeartRescue program has been modeled after and has absorbed the valuable work previously done by the Gallatin HeartRescue Program in Southern MT. More information about the MT HeartRescue Program, including how to get a CPR-in-a-box tote, can be found at a tab at the above web site.

Also, the Cardiac Ready Community project is participating in the CARES Registry Data Base. The Registry collects data on cardiac arrests from the time of the arrest through hospital outcome. It provides EMS agencies, hospitals and communities data to help them improve their response to a cardiac arrest. The data provides the means to actually see where improvements in the chain of survival need to be made and allows comparisons to similar size communities as well as the state as a whole.

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