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Patients and family members pose for a photo with local EMS crews and FMC staff members following Wednesday’s The Beat Goes On event.

 Published March 2024

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating without warning, a medical emergency that impacts approximately 356,000 Americans each year. While the condition is fatal in 90% of out-of-hospital occurrences, bystander intervention and access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) can drastically improve survival. On Thursday, March 21, Fairfield Medical Center recognized eight patients – ranging in age from 10 to 72 years – who beat the odds, and honored the individuals who served as vital links in their chains of survival.

The chain of survival includes recognizing cardiac arrest, calling 911, beginning chest compressions and using an AED if one is available. Although each story is different, every patient received help in the critical minutes following collapse. In some cases, a family member performed CPR until medics arrived, coached by 911 dispatchers as they provided calm and clear direction. In others, chaperons or friends jumped into action, utilizing AEDs located within a local school and bowling alley to restart the heart. No matter the details, quick and decisive assistance paved the way for positive outcomes.

“We never know when we might be called upon to step up and save a life – or when we might need saved ourselves,” said cardiologist Jason Weingart, MD. “Everyone should know how to perform CPR and use an AED. The knowledge and courage to intervene can mean the difference between life and death.”

During the reunion, aptly named The Beat Goes On, cardiac arrest survivors and their families had the opportunity to express their gratitude and speak with the first responders and FMC team members who cared for them in their time of need. The sense of connection is healing for patients, but for healthcare professionals, the event is invaluable.

“This is the second time we’ve hosted this event, and it was just as impactful as the first,” said Deserae Belcher, STEMI Coordinator at Fairfield Medical Center and event organizer. “When a patient comes through our doors, we do everything in our power to save them. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the chance to learn the outcome – especially in emergency situations. To be able to introduce ourselves and shake hands these survivors means the world to us, and it truly reinforces our sense of purpose as caregivers.”

Fairfield Medical Center and Community Heart Watch are committed to improving cardiac arrest survival in the region. To learn more about CPR training and AED accessibility, visit community-heart-watch.