News release: Minnesota to place advanced life-saving equipment in ambulances statewide

News Release
September 5, 2014

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Minnesota to place advanced life-saving equipment in ambulances statewide

The Minnesota Department of Health announced a new initiative today to place life-saving equipment in ambulances and emergency rooms across the state. The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is funding the project with a $4 million grant.

The grant will be used to place an automated chest compression device, called Physio-Control LUCAS® 2 Chest Compression System, into ambulance services and hospitals across the state. The project will include the necessary training for using the devices and will be coordinated by the health department.

The LUCAS 2 device became available in the Twin Cities metro area about five years ago, where it is now widely used. However, the Helmsley Foundation estimates that the greatest need is in Greater Minnesota with 80 percent of ambulances and hospitals in the state lacking access. The grant will allow these providers to obtain the equipment at no cost.

"This is part of our effort to ensure quality health care for all Minnesotans," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "Our goal is to improve cardiac arrest survival rates by installing these devices in every ambulance and hospital in the state."

Minnesota's survival rate from cardiac arrest is 14 percent. The national rate is less than 5 percent. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops abruptly, the victim collapses and quickly loses consciousness. If a normal heart rhythm is not restored within minutes, the person usually dies. The automated chest compression device more effectively and consistently delivers the necessary chest compressions, increasing the patient's chances of survival.

Automated CPR is changing attitudes among doctors about the prospect of patients surviving prolonged cardiac arrest. In 2013, a Wisconsin man suffering a sudden cardiac arrest made a good recovery after receiving automated CPR for 2 hours and 45 minutes during transport and treatment at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. This is thought to be the world's longest example of extended CPR that successfully revived a patient.

MDH will reach out to all EMS and hospital providers in early 2015 to coordinate training activities and distribution of the devices.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant making, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust's Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $220 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications
651-201-5806 or 651-503-1440 for mobile