County has world’s highest survival rate for cardiac arrest

July 29, 2014

By Staff

Someone who has a cardiac arrest in King County has a greater chance of survival than anyone else in the world, according the latest analysis by county officials.

The survival rate for cardiac arrest in King County hit an all-time high of 62 percent in 2013. By comparison, the cardiac survival rates in New York City, Chicago and other urban areas have been recorded in the single digits.

“People are alive today in King County who would not have survived in most other places in the country,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “Our system delivers rapid, high-quality critical care wherever you are.”

King County’s success in saving lives is based in a coordinated, regional system where everyone — dispatchers, first responders, fire departments, law enforcement, paramedics, urgent care centers and others — is guided by consistent medical direction and evidence-based practice.

The cardiac survival rate in King County has dramatically risen over the past decade or so, from an above-average 27 percent in 2002 to 62 percent in 2013. Strategies that have contributed to the rise include:

  • Adoption of high-performance CPR method by emergency medical technicians to maximize oxygen circulation and increase survival chances.
  • Adoption of telecommunicator CPR, whereby 911 emergency personnel provide instant CPR instructions by phone.
  • Increasing public availability of automated external defibrillators, including more than 100 in King County facilities, and placement of them in many law enforcement vehicles, including with King County sheriff’s deputies.
  • High rates of CPR training for local residents.
  • A regional paramedic training program, funded by charitable contributions, that exceeds national standards for certification.

Officials also point to the success of the county’s EMS/Medic One System. Introduced in Seattle in 1970, the Medic One program was one of the first in the nation to provide paramedic services; the program spread to all of King County in 1973. The EMS/Medic One program has become a model nationwide for delivery of lifesaving first-responder services.

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