Pa. AED plan waiting for FDA approval

The 4-Minute City program is designed to place 300 units across Cumberland County


Maddie Seiler
The Sentinel, Carlisle

CARLISLE, Pa. — "This is singlehandedly the most important public health initiative that has come through emergency medical services that I've ever seen."

Nathan Harig, assistant chief at Cumberland Goodwill EMS was talking about the 4-Minute City program, designed to strategically place 300 automatic external defibrillator units across Cumberland County to provide medical attention to sudden cardiac arrest patients within four minutes.

"We lose people to sudden cardiac arrest that quite frankly should be saved because people aren't aware of how to perform CPR and they don't have access to AEDs," he said.

Enter 4-Minute City.

The program, created by Avive, was announced in Lower Allen Township in February, and the AED devices are currently in the final stages of U.S. Food and Drug Administration certification, Harig said, adding that it could be implemented early next year.

AED hosts

It allows county residents to sign up to host an AED system that's designed to be interconnected with county dispatch, Harig said.

"Take the principal of smartphone, how we're all interconnected and able to get notifications and apps and everything and build a defibrillator around it and that's what this unit is," he said. "If there is a sudden cardiac arrest within about one mile of that location, it can notify everyone who has one of these AEDs and then it can also take people who have signed up through a smartphone app that might not have an AED but could still provide CPR and notify them and get the patient help quicker."

The program receives funding from UPMC Pinnacle and Penn State Health, and the bulk of its support comes from the Peyton Walker Foundation in Camp Hill, Harig said. This organization, named for Peyton Walker, a Trinity High School graduate who suffered from sudden cardiac arrest and died in 2013 at the age of 19, is dedicated to increasing awareness and survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest, according to its website.

"If you're a host, you're not going to be paying for maintenance, you're not going to be paying any service costs, you're not going to be buying the AED, that's all covered," Harig said. "We just need you to say yes to saving your neighbor's life or potentially your loved ones in that same house."

Asheleigh Forsburg, managing director of the Peyton Walker Foundation, said more than 300 individuals and companies have signed up to host devices in the county, however recruitment continues to fill in coverage gaps. Harig identified two of these gaps as Hickorytown off Trindle Road in Middlesex Township and Wormleysburg around Front Street.

Prospective hosts can take a survey online at avive.life/cumberlandcounty/ and complete a web training. Harig said there will also be a webinar for hosts in late September, as well as two hands-on sessions, one with a phone app and another with the AED device itself.

"We want to make sure that everyone's very confident in what is necessary to use the device," Harig said. "They're very simple, they're very easy. We wouldn't be doing our duties as emergency responders trying to push the program if we didn't feel like everyone could use it, so we want to make sure that they're confident."

Program

Confidence is crucial because when a person suffers from a sudden cardiac arrest, time is of the essence.

"You have about 10 minutes in sudden cardiac arrest before death is permanent," Harig said. "There is no ability to reverse that."

"We can't wait for first responders to arrive; they are working so hard, but they can't be everywhere instantly," Forsburg said. "We as neighbors, friends and family need to do our part to help save more lives from SCA. If we do that, more of our loved ones will survive cardiac arrest."

Avive's website said the survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest are less than 10% and that it claims the lives of more than 150 Cumberland County residents and 350,000 Americans each year.

If the program works in Cumberland County, Harig said it could expand to Dauphin County next.

"We are hopeful that the success in Cumberland County creates a ripple effect that will allow us to take the program region- and potentially statewide," Forsberg said. "We want every citizen to be within 4 minutes of an AED. High quality hands-only CPR and an AED save lives, and this program will save lives."

Harig echoed this sentiment, saying "this is how you stop people from dying unnecessarily from sudden cardiac arrest."

"It's going to be more birthdays, more people having vacations, all these great outcomes that we like to see, all because we just have a little tiny box that delivers an electrical shock available within four minutes of any potential cardiac arrest in Cumberland County," he said.

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(c)2022 The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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