Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Chief of EMS John Peruggia and other officials joined at EMS Station 46 at Elmhurst Hospital Center on Aug. 2 to announce that as of Aug. 1, FDNY and other city paramedics are treating cardiac arrest patients with hypothermia therapy, which has been proven to slow the deleterious impact of cardiac arrest on the body.
"In a situation where every second counts, this will save lives," said Mayor Bloomberg.
Advanced Life Support ambulances in the city have been outfitted with refrigeration equipment, which holds the chilled intravenous fluids that will be administered to patients in cardiac arrest (not due to trauma).
These fluids will bring the body's core temperature from 98.6 degrees down to 89.6 to 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit. As a person's body temperature cools, the brain's demand for oxygen lessens, thus pulling the body out of crisis mode and saving the patient's neurological function.
"Now we're able to provide even better care to cardiac arrest victims," said Commissioner Cassano.
This is Phase II of Project Hypothermia. Phase I was launched in January 2009, when it was administered to patients at 43 New York City hospitals. In 18 months, more than 2,600 cardiac arrest patients were transported to hospitals with hypothermia therapy, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of patients who survived cardiac arrest and left the hospital with no permanent neurological or physical impairment.
Since the program began, the survival rate of cardiac arrest patients admitted to the hospital after being stabilized in the Emergency Room increased by 20 percent. There also has been a 30 percent increase in the number of those patients discharged from hospitals. And approximately seven out of 10 patients who received hypothermia treatment left hospitals with little or no lasting mental or physical impacts.
FDNY EMS expects to administer hypothermia therapy to more than 6,000 patients in the next year, more than doubling the number of people who benefitted from the first phase of the program.
"We've seen many cardiac arrest therapies that save lives," said Dr. Scott Weingart from the Division of Emergency Critical Care at Elmhurst Hospital Center. "But this doesn't just save lives; it sends people back to their lives."