A conference in Howell Friday focused on a statewide initiative’s next steps to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

The SaveMIHeart conference, held at the Livingston County Public Safety Complex, brought together individuals who all have a role in the chain of survival when it comes to treating a patient who is experiencing cardiac arrest. Those in attendance included cardiac arrest survivors, bystanders that have aided them, EMS dispatchers, responders, and physicians.

SaveMIHeart seeks to double the rate of survival for Michigan’s cardiac arrest patients from 8% to 16% by 2020. Each year, the nonprofit organization leads a conference that allows stakeholders to review data from cardiac arrest process variables to discuss progress that has been made and what more can be done to improve survival outcomes.

Robert Neumar, Professor and Chair of Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan and President of SaveMiHeart, says the process variables are broken down into the bystander response, 911 dispatchers providing CPR instruction, EMS provision of care, and hospital treatment. Neumar says this year’s conference turned out an action plan that includes increasing CPR awareness so bystanders will act, training dispatchers to better provide CPR instructions over the phone, monitoring the quality of CPR in an EMS system, and ensuring appropriate prognostication.

Neumar says the plan entails picking at least one statewide initiative for each of those areas in the chain of survival, and then attempting to deploy that across the state in as many EMS systems and hospitals as possible. The continual data collection, review, and revise plan of action approach is effective according to Neumar because he believes “…your system of care is only as strong as your weakest link.” (DK)