The Overall Plan

This is a Cardiac Ready Communities project.  While the deployment of Lucas devices is a key activity for this initiative, it will do little to place these devices with EMS services and hospitals if the entire community is not engaged with all links of the Cardiac Chain of Survival.  i.e. If the patient or someone near them does not readily recognize signs of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 immediately, the patient may not survive until EMS can respond with an automatic compression device. Likewise, deployment of Lucas devices will not do anything to change patient outcomes if AEDs are not available and utilized where possible and if EMS and hospitals do not adopt high performance CPR standards.

As such, the deployment of Lucas devices in communities will be dependent upon community engagement with the entire cardiac chain of survival.  Over the next months, we will visit each community to meet with EMS, medical directors, other healthcare providers, hospitals, CPR/AED educators and the public to evaluate the community's readiness in key strategies.  Upon the community determining any gaps or opportunities for improvement in any area, we will initiate a Cardiac Ready Community Partnership Agreement between the project and the community. This agreement will be a strategic plan on how the project and the community will work together to improve a patient's chance of surviving a cardiac event through community readiness.

Upon initiation of a partnership agreement, EMS services and hospitals will eligible for Lucas devices and the process of improving and enhancing community readiness for cardiac events will begin.  We will utilize as many resources as we can over the next three years (and hopefully beyond) to help communities become cardiac ready.  While this process will spread out the deployment of the Lucas device over a period of months, engaging the community and doing it right will save lives - deploying the Lucas in isolation may not improve cardiac outcomes at all.

The last, but important, element of this initiative is to evaluate whether or not a Cardiac Ready Community initiative save lives.  We historically know that patient survival from heart attacks, especially from cardiac arrest, is very low in many of our communities.  The Helmsley Charitable Trust is investing $3.2 million dollars to improve cardiac outcomes in Montana and it is unconscionable to not evaluate if this funding and effort helps improve patient outcomes.  As such, this project will include several data collection and performance activities.  We will engage EMS services and hospitals to collect data about their patients and to participate in performance improvement and project evaluation activities.  Additionally, Helmsley has funded the University of North Dakota to conduct an evaluation of the Lucas device in rural states and we will be participating in that.

Current Project Status

March 09, 2015 - Upon receipt of the grant award in January, we have been engaged with getting approval for a modified FTE for this project.  This position will be essential to the planning and implementation of this initiative.  Typically, the approval for such a position occurs timely, but with the legislature in session, our budget and finance department has been unusually busy.  Approval to hire this position has now been received and we'll be getting it advertised ASAP.