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Press Release

Data Registry Helps Contra Costa Emergency Providers Save Cardiac Arrest Patients

Monday, July 6, 2015

A national data registry that helps Contra Costa emergency medical providers optimize the initial treatments that cardiac arrest patients receive in Contra Costa County should become standard across the country, according to a study issued by the Institute of Medicine.

The Institute, a nonprofit that is part of the National Academy of Sciences, recommended the expansion of a registry tracking out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, including treatment, outcomes and factors such as bystander intervention, in its report, "Strategies to Track Cardiac Arrest Survival: A Time to Act," released June 30.

Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services (EMS), a division of Contra Costa Health Services, uses data from CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival) to measure the efficacy of strategies to improve cardiac arrest survival rates and to set internal benchmarks, said county EMS Director Patricia Frost.

"The gold standard for measuring any EMS system is its cardiac arrest survival rate," Frost said. "CARES data have helped us identify areas for improvement as well as what works well in our county."

CARES also revealed that Contra Costa's patients were twice as likely to survive, on average, if a bystander witnessed their cardiac arrest and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

That information influenced county EMS providers to emphasize and grow programs such as Contra Costa's HeartSafe Communities campaign to teach hands-only CPR to residents and to place public-access automated external defibrillators in the community.

The annual number of cases in which bystanders performed CPR on cardiac arrest victims before paramedics arrived has increased 50% over the past six years, thanks in part to those efforts.

Contra Costa in 2009 became one of the first California counties to participate in CARES, which was developed at Emory University in Atlanta in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). More than 800 emergency medical services agencies and 1,300 hospitals in 36 states have now joined.

To learn more about Contra Costa's cardiac system of care, visit

To read the Institute of Medicine report, click the "reports" link at

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  • Karl Fischer, 925-313-6832