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Circulation. 2002 Aug 27;106(9):1065-70.

Tripling survival from sudden cardiac arrest via early defibrillation without traditional education in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Gugliemo da Saliceto Hospital, Piacenza, Italy.



Early defibrillation is the most important intervention affecting survival from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). To improve public access to early defibrillation, we established Piacenza Progetto Vita (PPV), the first system of out-of-hospital early defibrillation by first-responder volunteers.


The system serves a population of 173 114 residents in the Piacenza region of Italy. Equipment for the system comprises 39 semiautomatic external biphasic defibrillators (AEDs): 12 placed in high-risk locations, 12 in lay-staffed ambulances, and 15 in police cars; 1285 lay volunteers trained in use of the AED, without traditional education in cardiac pulmonary resuscitation, responded to all cases of suspected SCA, in coordination with the Emergency Medical System (EMS). During the first 22 months, 354 SCA occurred (72+/-12 years, 73% witnessed). The PPV volunteers treated 143 SCA cases (40.4%), with an EMS call-to-arrival time of 4.8+/-1.2 minutes (versus 6.2+/-2.3 minutes for EMS, P=0.05). Overall survival rate to hospital discharge was tripled from 3.3% (7 of 211) for EMS intervention to 10.5% (15 of 143) for PPV intervention (P=0.006). The survival rate for witnessed SCA was tripled by PPV: 15.5% versus 4.3% in the EMS-treated group (P=0.002). A "shockable" rhythm was present in 23.8% (34 of 143) of the PPV patients versus 15.6% (33 of 211) of the EMS patients (P=0.055). The survival rate from shockable dysrhythmias was higher for PPV versus EMS: 44.1% (15 of 34) versus 21.2% (7 of 33), P=0.046. The neurologically intact survival rate was higher in PPV-treated versus EMS-treated patients: 8.4% (12 of 143) versus 2.4% (5 of 211), P=0.009.


Broad dissemination of AEDs for use by nonmedical volunteers enabled early defibrillation and tripled the survival rate for out-of-hospital SCA.

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