When it comes to sudden cardiac arrest—when the heart stops beating—every minute matters. The sooner a person gets blood flowing to their brain again, the better their chance of recovery.
But survival rates for people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital are notoriously poor, hovering around 10 percent nationally.
This year, law enforcement officers and first responders across Minnesota are being equipped with more than 8,300 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to help improve that dire statistic. The effort is made possible by an $18.8 million grant to the University of Minnesota Medical School from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
The three-year project aims to equip every law enforcement vehicle in the state with an AED and train agencies to deliver immediate care to victims before emergency medical services arrive. AEDs should be used within the first three to five minutes of a person’s cardiac arrest to ensure the best possible outcome.
“With the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s new grant, thousands of AEDs will be deployed by first responders to serve and treat hundreds of victims of sudden [cardiac arrest] each year in all corners of urban, suburban, and rural Minnesota,” says Demetri Yannopoulos, director of the Medical School’s Center for Resuscitation Medicine and holder of the R. K. Eddy Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Resuscitation. “Defibrillators are one of the few known lifesaving technologies in cardiac arrest,” he says. “We anticipate that hundreds of lives will be saved in the next few years by this effort.”