Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue: TVF&R Launches Pilot Program to Save Lives, Leveraging Off-Duty Professional Firefighters, Technology and Defibrillators

By Tualatin Valley Fire & RescueSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Each year, approximately 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of these events prove fatal, and the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent with every passing minute without CPR.

Though survival rates in the Pacific Northwest exceed the national average, a coalition of first responders, clinicians, researchers and a leading medical equipment manufacturer aims to make the region the frontrunner in cardiac arrest response and survival.

The PulsePoint Foundation, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, International Association of Firefighters Local 1660 and automated external defibrillator (AED) manufacturer Philips Healthcare launched the Verified Responder Pilot Program on Valentine’s Day that will activate off-duty, professional firefighters to respond to cardiac arrest calls in public and private settings.

Participating professional firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians or paramedics who receive background checks in the state of Oregon. Philips Healthcare is loaning every participating firefighter an AED so that if they respond, they can employ the same technology used by emergency responders and physicians to restart a heart that has stopped beating.

“Four years ago, we were the first fire department in Oregon to launch PulsePoint’s app for citizen responders,” said TVF&R Fire Chief Mike Duyck. “We are humbled to partner with them again as the first agency to pilot the Verified Responder program and hope that it’s the beginning of a national movement. Having lost my own father from sudden cardiac arrest, I am personally and professionally committed to sparing other families from potential heartbreak.”

The effort will gather important data and combine it with existing technology and clinical insights to inform future lifesaving strategies and products. During the pilot, King County EMS (Wash.) will assist in evaluating the program for potential expansion to additional communities across the nation.

“Firefighters know all too well that their skills are sometimes needed when off-the-clock,” said Richard Price of the PulsePoint Foundation. “In some ways, PulsePoint Verified Responder simply formalizes the ‘always in service’ dedication and full-time commitment that comes with the badge.”

“We understand that the moments between someone’s heart stopping and when the emergency responders get to the scene are crucial, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this important pilot program,” added Joe Sovak of Philips Healthcare. “The faster help is able to intervene, the greater the opportunity for another life saved.”

For more information, visit tvfr.com.