Cardiac Arrest Center

Flagstaff Medical Center recently was designated a Cardiac Arrest Center by the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System, and the Arizona Department of Health Services. As a Cardiac Arrest Center, FMC provides comprehensive, technologically advanced care to those who have a sudden cardiac arrest. FMC is only one of two hospitals north of Phoenix to receive the designation.

Cardiac Arrest Centers must meet the following standards: cardiac intervention capabilities including a Cardiac Cath Lab and an interventional cardiologist available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; a therapeutic hypothermia method to cool the patient for at least 24 hours after a cardiac event, which reduces the risk of brain damage; and a coordinated approach to cardiac care with local emergency medical personnel to provide specific life-saving protocols before the patient arrives at the hospital.

“Having a Cardiac Arrest Center in Northern Arizona will substantially increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest patients,” said Jennifer Conn, M.D., medical director of Emergency Services at FMC. “These new procedures and protocols are the first real improvement we have seen in more than 20 years when it comes to treating people who have suffered a cardiac arrest, especially outside of a hospital.”  

In Arizona, heart disease, which can be a cause of sudden cardiac arrest, is the number-one killer. Recent data shows that each year more than 166,000 people in the U.S. have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital, with less than 5 percent surviving the incident. However, when a person receives by-stander CPR or CCR (cardiocerebral resuscitation) before emergency medical personnel arrive to start life-saving care, and is then transported to a Cardiac Arrest Center, the chance of survival increases to approximately 33 percent.

FMC and Guardian Medical Transport have been instrumental in establishing in-the-field cardiac arrest protocols for Arizona EMS agencies. Arizona is the only state with a network of coordinated cardiac arrest care – from by-standers to EMS to hospitals; and is the only state with EMS guidelines which permit EMS personnel to start cooling a cardiac arrest patient before they arrive at a hospital.