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Published Tue, Nov 13, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Nov 13, 2012 06:09 PM

Town approves new response to cardiac arrest calls

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- ajames@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- The town council has approved a plan to have a fire truck on-duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help emergency medical services respond to cardiac arrest calls.

Debate over who would pay for the fire truck to constantly be on duty began at a town council meeting in October. The town is responsible for paying for the fire department, and the county is responsible for the EMS budget, so some town council members were concerned this new service would mean Clayton would be paying to assist a county service.

“We are absolutely supplementing a county service,” said Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs. He said the cost of the new service will be paid for with money that’s already been allocated to the fire department by the town. He called the cardiac calls an “urgent situation,” that deserves the support of the town.

Cardiac arrest calls, also called code blue calls, are issued by emergency medical services. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating, which stops blood flow to the brain and other vital organs.

The way it works now, an EMS employee can decide to contact the fire department for assistance at any point during a code blue call, and the fire department would respond at that point.

Under the new plan, the fire department will be automatically dispatched out with EMS to respond to cardiac arrest calls.

“Seconds count when you’re doing CPR,” said Josh Holloman, Johnston county EMS division chief. “We want to get people out there as fast as we can.”

Holloman said the life-saving potential when responding to cardiac arrest can be increased from 5 to 25 percent if CPR is done immediately.

The time spent calling and dispatching the fire department will now be nil, and there will be no delay.

James: 919-553-7234

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