Mayville-Portland aims to prep whole community for cardiac arrests
MAYVILLE, N.D. — The Mayville-Portland area may be one of the safest places to live after it recently was designated a Cardiac Ready Community.
It is one of only four communities in the state to earn the special recognition, meaning it has met the criteria in a community-led initiative to prepare local residents to be ready and able to help others during a heart-related emergency.
"It makes a huge difference being able to claim that level of service in a small area like Mayville-Portland," said Stefan Hofer, operations manager at West Traill Ambulance Service in Mayville. "And it should increase the survival rate from cardiac arrests."
Hofer co-chairs the Cardiac Ready Support Committee along with Doris Vigen, director of nursing at Sanford Medical Center in Mayville.
"One of the things we really worked on over the past year has been the placement of AEDs," Vigen said of the automated external defibrillators. "We had some placed, but we better organized them and placed some additional AEDs, so there's now a total of 37 throughout the towns."
Vigen and Hofer said they were inspired by the recent case of a 52-year-old man who survived cardiac arrest with the help of the device.
"He's been quite an active voice and has helped us get where we are," Hofer said.
Vigen said they have noticed an increase in the number of people taking CPR classes with the AED training. Medical experts also have taken the training to specific organizations that request it.
For example, Vigen said training took place in two churches, and this fall, local high schools and Mayville State University are adding CPR to their professional development training.
"I think it has just helped so much to increase awareness," Vigen said.
The program also encourages blood pressure screening to help make people more aware of the risk factors for heart disease, she said. The Mayville-Portland Economic Development Commission has jumped on board, too. It provided matching funds to help the committee buy more AEDs and also set up a separate fund that will help match funds from businesses that want to buy their own AEDs.
"It's been a really positive experience," Vigen said. "We're happy we can have this status and have plans to move forward."
The committee already is looking for more locations that might have expanded hours and provide more access to the lifesaving devices. Eventually, every AED site will be linked by a computer program that will allow dispatchers to tell emergency callers where the nearest unit might be located.
The only other North Dakota cities to have the Cardiac Ready designation are Powers Lake, which served as the pilot program, Valley City and Rugby.
The program is in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health's Division of Emergency Medical Systems and the American Heart Association through the North Dakota Cardiac System of Care.
Shila Thorson, coordinator of the ND State Stroke Cardiac System, said in a news release the survival rate from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest varies greatly throughout the United States.
"Many communities average low survival rates of 10 percent or less," she said. "Trained communities can increase survivability by as much as 50 percent."