Longmont Fire Department sees success with pit crew CPR method

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LONGMONT, Colo. (KDVR) – Paramedics with the Longmont Fire Department are celebrating the success of helping more people survive cardiac arrest. They have been fine-tuning a pit crew method of offering CPR that is gaining national attention.

There’s not a change in what’s being done but how it’s being done, according to Lt. John Michael with Longmont Fire Department. The method relies on coordination to get a person to the emergency room with a chance to survive.

“We’re really being successful at getting people back home to their families,” Michael said.

Michael first learned about pit crew resuscitation during an EMS conference in Texas six years ago. He learned about organizing CPR efforts into strategic roles like a pit crew and was determined to refine the method for Longmont.

In 2015, Longmont medics had a 14 percent success rate of returning circulation to someone suffering cardiac arrest.

“Since then, we’ve increased our survival rates by over 330 percent,” Michael said.

In 2018, the success rate jumped to 46 percent. In the first half of 2019, the return-to-circulation rate hit 53 percent.

In Longmont, eight people are dispatched to each cardiac arrest call. The first five to arrive provide chest compressions, shocks to the heart, ventilating, IV treatment and coordination. The last three medics offer support dealing with the public on scene, documenting the treatment provided and preparing the area to quickly move the patient to an ambulance.

“Everybody is on the same page without a lot of discussion,” Michael said.

Before 2015, Longmont would send -- on average -- five medics on cardiac arrest calls under a less organized format. With positive results, there’s no going back to the way things used to be.

Other agencies have already contacted Longmont Fire Department asking to learn more about the pit crew model to save even more lives.

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