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Alabama F.D. Joins Heart Attack Study

The Pelham (Ala.) Fire Department is set to become the second department in the nation to join in a study that seeks to improve the care heart attack patients receive prior to arriving at a hospital.

Seattle was the first in the nation, according to Shannon Stephens, a clinical research coordinator with UAB s Department of Emergency Medicine. Pelham will be the first of 10 local agencies to take part in the study.

The study is exploring whether an extended period of CPR performed with a special valve placed over a patient s mouth improves the effectiveness of defibrillators on heart attack patients.

We re comfortable with the leadership in place here and this is where we want to start this new study, Stephens told city leaders.

Stephens in the past has praised the city s fire department, saying it has been instrumental in studies that seek to improve patient care prior to arriving at a hospital.

Battalion Chief Danny Ray went to Chicago with Stephens a few years back as the two worked with the National Institute of Health to devise the study, Stephens said.

Pelham is also working with UAB on a study that is trying to determine if saline solution can restore blood pressure and reduce brain swelling in patients with severe blood loss or serious head injuries.

Bessemer, Birmingham, Center Point, Chelsea, Trussville, Vestavia Hills and Rocky Ridge fire departments will also take part in the CPR study, as will Regional Paramedical Services and American Medical Response ambulance services, Stephens said.

The study will be conducted over the next 21/2 years in other cities, including Pittsburgh, Toronto, Milwaukee, Dallas, Ontario, Vancouver, Portland, San Diego, and across Iowa.

Alabama has the second highest per capita death rate from cardiac arrest in America, Stephens said, with a 2 percent survival rate. The national survival rate, Stephens said, is less than 5 percent.

Stephens said if the new method improves those survival rates by even 10 percent, they could save 50,000 lives a year.

Stephens said UAB soon will begin meetings to inform the public about the study.

On the Web: www.uab.edu/ arc

EMAIL: jgray@bhamnews.com

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