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Anchorage Fire Department Wins Prestigious National Award

Award recognizes excellence in cardiac care

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) was honored with the 2010 Heart Safe Community Award by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The prestigious award recognizes the implementation of creative approaches to improve therapies for patients with acute coronary syndromes and lifethreatening, sudden cardiac arrest. The AFD's program was chosen from among hundreds of similar initiatives offered by Emergency Medical Service providers throughout North America

Two awards are given: one for communities larger than 100,000 residents and one for those with fewer than 100,000 residents. The Town of Colonie, NY, is the recipient of the small community award

These systems were judged on their community's adoption of bystander CPR; deployment of automatic emergency defibrillators (AEDs); the use of pre-hospital electrocardiograms to activate hospitals for emergency heart studies; and the cooperation of local hospitals as well as the improvement of outcomes from heart attacks and cardiac arrest. Judges also considered the community's programs for heart awareness and the prevention of heart attacks and cardiac arrest. Two notable approaches the AFD has initiated include the STEMI (ST- Elevation Myocardial Infarction "Heart Attack") and citizen CPR programs

Dr. Michael Levy, the AFD's Medical Director, points out that Anchorage has been an EMS leader nationwide since 2006 in its approach to the treatment of patients suffering a dangerous type of heart attack known as STEMI. In Anchorage, these patients are identified by AFD paramedics and are taken preferentially to one of the two local hospitals that can provide the intervention known as an emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Patients who receive these interventions in fewer than 90 minutes have been shown to have lower rates of death and disability

Anchorage is among the very top tier of cities in survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest. Each year the percentage survival from the condition known as ventricular fibrillation has improved in this community. In 2009, victims of this condition had a nearly 50 percent chance of survival with a good neurological outcome if the event was witnessed by a bystander. Bystander CPR is a critical component to this survival

In April 2008, the Anchorage Fire Department partnered with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1264 and non-profit Loren Marshall Foundation to facilitate 'CPR Anytime' kits for community training. Called the "Big Wild Heart of Alaska" program, AFD crews have provided CPR training to members of community councils, civic and business organizations, and the Anchorage School District. A priority is to train all eighth graders within the ASD in CPR and eventually expand the program throughout Alaska

"At AFD we are committed to cardiac care excellence," said Fire Chief Mark Hall

"There are many patients and families in our community who will continue to live productive lives because of the STEMI and citizen CPR programs." "This is proof of how well trained and professional our AFD first responders are," said Mayor Sullivan. "The entire community should be proud of this prestigious award."

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