The UF Medical Guild has awarded grant funding to 14 nonprofit organizations to support community-wide health and wellness projects, including one aimed at helping improve survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest in East Gainesville.
The UF Health Chest Pain Center, in coordination with the UF Health PulsePoint task force, applied for the Medical Guild grant with a goal to increase bystander CPR rates and sudden cardiac arrest survival in an area of Alachua County with the lowest rates of bystander CPR and few automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.
Through the project, organizers will hold CPR training events for the community, install AEDs and promote awareness of the need for bystander CPR.
“This grant showed that the presence of AEDs in East Gainesville was minimal in comparison to other parts of the county,” said Diane G. Yang, Ph.D., chair of UF Medical Guild special projects. “Although one might not survive even with CPR or an AED, this grant begins to level the playing field, evening out the chances of survival from a heart event in this underserved area.”
Nationwide, 475,000 people die from cardiac arrest each year, and 350,000 cases occur outside of the hospital. CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, and currently 90% of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die, according to the American Heart Association. Nine out of 10 patients who receive a shock from an AED in the first minute live.
While the American Heart Association recommends an AED be available within a three-minute “radius,” there are few registered AEDs east of Main Street in Gainesville, but more than 240 to the west.
In the areas near Waldo Road and NE Eighth Avenue, the chances that someone receives CPR from a bystander is only 1 in 5, but the average in Alachua County is double that, according to the cardiac arrest research team at UF Health.
The grassroots program received $3,800 in funding and will begin training community residents in 2020, as well as accept applications from businesses, churches or organizations in the area to install AEDs for free. The application will open in December.
“The Medical Guild grant is going to help us get closer to having AEDs near areas in Gainesville where we know there have been sudden cardiac arrests but no AED available for bystanders to use,” said Nikolaus Gravenstein, M.D., an anesthesiology professor in the UF College of Medicine and pioneer of the PulsePoint Respond app in Alachua County. “Early defibrillation, even before EMS is on the scene, is a victim’s best chance for recovery when you have a cardiac arrest with a shockable rhythm.”
Last September, UF Health joined community first responders to launch PulsePoint, a smartphone app that has the potential to double the survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the Gainesville community. Integrated within Alachua County’s 911 system, the PulsePoint app alerts users of a nearby cardiac emergency through their phone, so they can provide hands-only CPR before first responders arrive. It will also indicate the location of a nearby AED.
“Willingness to respond to someone you might see in distress and in cardiac arrest is the most important thing you can do and can more than double the chances that person lives to see another day,” Gravenstein said. “Our goal is to support our community through programs like PulsePoint and the AED initiative in East Gainesville.”