Medic One hones its lifesaving CPR skills
Research and refined CPR techniques have helped create high cardiac-arrest survival rates in Seattle and King County, but the Medic One Foundation, which pays for paramedic training through donations, says raising funds has been tough in today's economic climate.
Seattle Times health reporter
For more information
Medic One Foundation: www.mediconefoundation.org
There are reasons why you have a much better chance of surviving an out-of-hospital heart attack in Seattle than you would in, say, Detroit.
They have to do with things most of us couldn't define — like the "chain of survival" and "high-performance CPR." If you're the one down on the floor, you probably won't care about the definitions or the subtleties.
What you should care about is this: Once someone in King County dials 911, that chain of survival has started up, giving you an even chance of survival — twice the national average, and far above many regions.
Those statistics aren't an accident but rather a result of years of attention to detail, research and the meticulous honing of CPR technique used by emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
The Medic One Foundation, which raises money to pay for paramedic training and research, demonstrated those techniques Tuesday, calling upon several paramedics-in-training to give a lunchtime audience at a South Lake Union restaurant a glimpse of the highly choreographed routine they are now learning.
Narrator Keir Warner, coordinator for paramedic training done through Harborview Medical Center, told the audience how to spot the subtle, research-driven changes in a typical CPR routine that will help increase the survival of a victim — in this case, a plastic manikin on the floor.
First, there was the "dispatcher" alerted by the 911 call, trained to guide a panicky, untrained "bystander" — expertly played by Dean Brooke, head of paramedic training — in how to start CPR.
Then, the paramedics-in-training arrived, demonstrating proper chest compression — fast, deep, and making sure they let up on the chest completely at the end of each push. They showed how to change places quickly, without missing a compression, and how they coordinate compressions with electric shock given with a portable defibrillator.
It all looked smooth, but these would-be paramedics said they were awed and humbled by the amount of information and skills they had yet to learn in the 10-month training program.
Along with lifesaving skills, trainees learn related people skills, said Seattle Fire Department paramedic trainee Larry Doll. He recalled watching a trained paramedic negotiate with an agitated homeless man who had been shot. Carrying his cat on his shoulder, the wounded man resisted being treated. "If you don't settle down," the paramedic told him sternly, "We will not take care of your cat."
This year's class of paramedics is the 38th since the program began. Over the years, about 600 have been trained in the program, directed since 1975 by Dr. Michael Copass, and supported by the Medic One Foundation, founded by Dr. Leonard Cobb.
Although voters pay for emergency medical services through levies, the money does not cover research or the training of paramedics and citizen responders. The Foundation helps pay for the Resuscitation Academy, an intensive, two-day program attended by leaders of emergency medical services from around the world.
This year's fundraising has been particularly difficult, as it has been for all nonprofits, said Jan Sprake, executive director of the Foundation, who said it needs to raise about $475,000 for this year's paramedic training.
Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @costrom.
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