Verde Valley Medical Center designated as a Cardiac Arrest Center

James Dwyer, M.D., medical director of the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, and Guardian Air Medical Transport have been instrumental in establishing in-the-field cardiac arrest protocols for Arizona EMS agencies.

James Dwyer, M.D., medical director of the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, and Guardian Air Medical Transport have been instrumental in establishing in-the-field cardiac arrest protocols for Arizona EMS agencies.

Verde Valley Medical Center, a member of Northern Arizona Healthcare, recently was designated a Cardiac Arrest Center by the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System.

As a Cardiac Arrest Center, VVMC provides comprehensive, technologically advanced care to individuals who have a sudden cardiac arrest. VVMC is one of only three hospitals north of Phoenix to receive this designation.

Cardiac Arrest Centers must meet the following criteria:

• Cardiac intervention capabilities including a Cardiac Cath Lab and an interventional cardiologist available 24 hours a day, seven days a week

• A therapeutic hypothermia method to lower a patient's body temperature for at least 24 hours after a cardiac event, which reduces the risk of brain damage

• A coordinated approach to cardiac care with local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to provide specific lifesaving protocols before the patient arrives at the hospital

Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack; it is a devastating event in which the heart abruptly and without warning ceases to function. Heart disease, which can be a cause of sudden cardiac arrest, is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States.

Recent data shows each year more than 166,000 people in the United States have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital, with less than five percent surviving the incident.

Every minute that passes before a cardiac arrest is treated decreases the chance of survival by 10 percent. However, when a person receives bystander CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or CCR (cardiocerebral resuscitation) before emergency medical personnel arrive to start lifesaving care, and then is transported to a Cardiac Arrest Center, the chance of survival increases to approximately 33 percent.

Robert Barth, VVMC director of Emergency Services, said, "Becoming a designated Cardiac Arrest Center will not only significantly improve the survival and recovery rates for cardiac arrest patients in our community, it also will improve their outcomes and quality of life."

James Dwyer, M.D., medical director of the Heart & Vascular Center of Northern Arizona, and Guardian Air Medical Transport have been instrumental in establishing in-the-field cardiac arrest protocols for Arizona EMS agencies. Arizona is the only state with a network of coordinated cardiac arrest care - from bystanders to EMS to hospitals; and is the only state with EMS guidelines that permit EMS personnel to start cooling a cardiac arrest patient before they arrive at a hospital.

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