Administration and Leadership, Cardiac & Resuscitation, Patient Care, Training

Five Years, 10,000 Saves & Just Getting Started

Launched in the United States in 2011, Medtronic Philanthropy’s HeartRescue Project began as a multistate collaborative program to improve sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survival rates. Today, with impressive results in more than six states, the effort is now expanding across the country.

Working in six states—Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington—and communities served by American Medical Response (AMR), the HeartRescue Project enlisted some of the nation’s leading clinical experts in resuscitation to improve community SCA response systems, which include citizens, first responders, EMS agencies and hospitals. Remarkably, these key links in the “chain of survival” were rarely coordinated, and often poorly measured.

Now in its fifth year, the HeartRescue Project has achieved encouraging success, helping shape recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s recent groundbreaking report on the state of SCA in the U.S.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the key achievements:

  • Improved measurement: Because you can’t improve what you don’t measure, data collection is a top priority. In 2011, only a few communities in partner states were measuring outcomes. Today, data collection using the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) covers 80% of those state’s populations, representing more than a quarter of U.S. residents.
  • Community programming: By targeting efforts in communities where high SCA incidence overlaps with lower survival rates, partners were able to move the survival needle. In Illinois, the overall survival rate is now 8%. Prior to HeartRescue, the state didn’t even have the ability to measure its overall survival rates, but they were estimated to be no more than 4%
  • Telephone CPR: In Arizona, 911 emergency operators were trained to assertively provide CPR instructions to callers. The program has collected data from nine regional dispatch centers covering about 80% of Arizona’s population. This low-cost idea helped improve bystander CPR rates from 38% in 2010 to 52% in 2013. That increase helped improve survival rates from 8% to 11% in a cohort of roughly 3,500 patients during the same time period.

In 2016, HeartRescue Project leadership will transition to the University of Washington, a founding partner and world leader in resuscitation response and training. With continued financial support from Medtronic Philanthropy, this new HeartRescue Consortium, made up of existing and future partners, will expand impact nationally.

Medtronic Philanthropy will now focus its efforts on extending this collaborative internationally to drive impact in emerging markets. Connecting U.S. partners with health professionals and community leaders in China and India will assist those countries in their efforts to improve community response for acute cardiovascular events. Focusing on the response to these events not only saves victims of SCA, but also improves the entire emergency medical system’s ability to help sick and injured people every day.

View the JEMS supplement & table of contents here.


Medtronic Philanthropy focuses on expanding access to quality chronic disease care among underserved populations worldwide, in addition to supporting health initiatives in communities where Medtronic employees live and give.

HeartRescue Project Partners

Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, University of Arizona/Arizona Department of Health Services

The SHARE (Save Hearts in Arizona Registry and Education) network implements effective new SCA approaches through strong partnerships between government agencies, hospitals and research groups.

Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium

Led by the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Cardiovascular Division, this statewide collaboration focuses on providing new treatments and technologies to SCA patients and rapidly deploying groundbreaking research advances in resuscitation science.

Duke University / Wake County EMS / North Carolina Office of EMS / University of North Carolina

The RACE CARS (Regional Approach to Cardiovascular Emergencies Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation System) program is the largest statewide system of emergency cardiovascular care, coordinating 122 hospitals and 540 EMS agencies to rapidly diagnose and treat heart attacks and SCA.

University of Pennsylvania Center for Resuscitation Science

The Center for Resuscitation Science is dedicated to research and training that will save the lives of cardiac arrest victims.

Pacific Northwest HeartRescue Initiative

This program is a collaboration of King County EMS, Seattle Fire Department’s Medic One program, Harborview Paramedic Training Program, and the University of Washington; the Anchorage (Alaska) Fire Department; Oregon Health and Science University; Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Fire and Rescue, and Jackson County (Ore.) EMS.

American Medical Response

AMR is the largest provider of EMS in the United States, and cares for 25,000 SCA victims each year. As a HeartRescue Project partner, AMR has partnered with citizens, dispatch centers, first responders, public health agencies and hospitals across the U.S.

Illinois Heart Rescue

Illinois Heart Rescue is a statewide collaborative engaging EMS systems, hospitals, resuscitation experts, and civic and community leaders to address the needs of SCA victims and their families across the care continuum.

Visit for information about the HeartRescue Project, or contact Tom Rea at [email protected].