Quick action saves a life in Sisters


Last updated 4/5/2022 at Noon

Quick efforts of citizens who witnessed a sudden cardiac arrest saved a life in Sisters last week.

Off-duty Bend Fire Captain/Paramedic Luke Stott and retired Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Jeff Johnson were having a business meeting at a local restaurant on Wednesday, March 30, in Sisters when another patron suddenly collapsed in front of them suffering a cardiac arrest. Their swift actions in initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and a rapid response by the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District, saved this person’s life.

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops, but cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is used to shock the heart within a few minutes. Having been trained in CPR, Captain Stott and Chief Johnson (ret.) quickly began lifesaving measures, and 911 was called. The immediate actions helped restore the patient’s heart to a normal rhythm, and by the time emergency responders arrived, the patient had regained consciousness.

Sisters Fire Chief Roger Johnson told The Nugget that there is a recognized “chain of survival” for cardiac patients, from recognition that a cardiac event is happening, to immediate action, to high-quality medical care and post-cardiac recovery. All the elements have to be in place to have consistently positive outcomes. The District recognizes the important role the community plays in saving lives, and has implemented programs over the last decade to provide effective community-risk reduction and public education programs aimed at increasing the cardiac arrest survivability of residents and visitors.

“That’s what we’ve been working on as a community,” Chief Johnson said.

Having a community that is trained and willing to perform CPR is a critical aspect in saving lives. The District provides community CPR/AED and first-aid classes to the public. Space is available in Community CPR/First Aid classes set for Sunday, May 1; Saturday, May 21; and Sunday, May 22. Register at http://www.sistersfire.com.

In an emergency, Deschutes County 911 dispatchers will provide CPR instructions over the phone prior to the arrival of emergency services. Community members who are trained in CPR are encouraged to download the PulsePoint application to receive notifications of cardiac arrest victims.

The PulsePoint application notifies users when someone is reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest near their location. The application immediately alerts the user to the location of the emergency, as well as where the nearest publicly accessible AED is located. AEDs are a computerized heart monitor that can recognize lethal cardiac arrhythmias and deliver an electrical shock to the heart. The notification is sent at the same time emergency responders are notified, so the public is often the first on the scene of the emergency. This application was developed to encourage bystander CPR, to save lives during cardiac arrest.

During the cardiac arrest event on March 30, PulsePoint data showed 14 CPR-trained citizen responders were notified of the event within four seconds of alerting emergency services, and 10 public-access AEDs were available within a 0.5-mile radius of the emergency location.

Because cardiac arrest survivability decreases significantly as minutes pass, early intervention by PulsePoint responders, and/or citizens being directed by 911 dispatchers on how to perform lifesaving measures, makes a significant impact on whether someone will survive this type of event. For more information about PulsePoint visit http://www.pulsepoint.org.

Sisters has a strong record for “saves.”

In 2021, national cardiac arrest survival rates for non-traumatic events in the United States was 7.9 percent, and only increased to 28.1 percent for any witnessed cardiac arrests where the patient was found to be in a rhythm that could be corrected by an AED. In 2021, the overall cardiac arrest survival rate for the greater Sisters area was 50 percent for non-traumatic cardiac arrests, and increased to 100 percent for witnessed events with a shockable rhythm. This survival rate would not be possible without the involvement of a well-trained community.

Another important element in the coordinated care system is public access to AEDs. The District funds a grant program for local businesses to purchase community-based AEDs. Since the grant program began, 24 public-access AEDs have been strategically placed throughout the community, and hundreds of citizens have been trained in CPR and AED use.

The final component to the coordinated system is rapid response of basic and advanced life support personnel. The District has nine highly trained career paramedics that are assigned alternating 24-hour shifts daily, seven days a week. District paramedics complete regular training on high-performance CPR, as well as in the use of specialized CPR equipment that can assist with chest compressions, maximizing emergency crew efficiency on-scene. The District also relies heavily on its volunteer staff, which includes an additional seven paramedics, 18 emergency medical technicians, seven emergency medical responders, and 17 CPR/first-aid trained personnel.

“By participating in the coordinated care system within the Sisters community, we are making significant progress in improving the chances of survival of sudden cardiac arrest,” Chief Johnson said.


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