Our Bureau of EMS received 1st Place in this year’s 2010 Association of State and Territorial Health Officials “Vision Award” for our creative (and really inexpensive)  Arizona Cardiac Receiving Center Program. The annual ASTHO Vision Awards recognize outstanding state health department programs and initiatives that use a creative approach to address public health needs or problems.  We’ll be recognized at the 2010 ASTHO Annual Meeting in October.  Way to go Dr. Ben Bobrow, Paula Brazil, Terry Mullins and Team EMS!

Back in 2007, our Bureau of EMS set up a network of cardiac arrest receiving centers in Arizona that now covers more than three-quarters of the state. While cooling the body is only one of the requirements for being part of the network, it has been a fundamental game changer.  We did it with nothing but a good idea and some elbow grease.  It’s based on the concept of getting emergency departments to use simple techniques like therapeutic hypothermia to improve the chances of survival and for a decent quality of life after someone suffers a cardiac event or stroke because of a clogged artery.  It’s basically an innovative medical treatment that lowers a person’s body temperature to reduce the risk of tissue damage when there isn’t enough blood flow to a part of the body because of a clogged artery.  Despite it’s simplicity, it’s a relatively new procedure.  You might be surprised to know that many medical centers don’t routinely use therapeutic hypothermia to treat cardiac or stroke patients.  But, Arizona has been leading the way as usual.

There’s been some national attention on the Arizona program recently, in addition to the Vision Award.  More and more states are urging their emergency departments to implement the simple measures.  It’s cheap too…  99% of the total cost for cardiac arrest patients who are cooled is incurred by care delivered after re-warming the patient, such as inserting a defibrillator or rehabilitation.