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The original item was published from 6/19/2019 12:26:00 PM to 9/21/2019 12:00:05 AM.

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Emergency Management

Posted on: June 19, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Pitt County Receives Positive Cardiac Arrest Treatment Report


In a letter addressed to East Carolina University (ECU) and Pitt County Government, Emergency Medical Services Director, Dr. Roberto Portela notified the organizations on Tuesday of newly released statistics regarding emergency response rates within Pitt County. According to Dr. Portela, these findings highlight "the accomplishments that the Pitt County EMS system has done through the partnership between Pitt County and the Department of Emergency Medicine at ECU."

As Medical Director, Dr. Portala has overseen the continued improvement of the EMS system throughout the past 5 years, which he attributed to the reported achievements. 

In early June, Portela received the 2018 cardiac arrest numbers from the “Regional Approach to Cardiovascular Emergencies Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation System” (RACE CARS). Their CARES database currently includes 62% of the population in North Carolina, and in 2018 recorded 5,420 cardiac arrest cases. The CARES database includes 46 EMS systems in North Carolina, as well as various other states throughout the US.

As evidenced by the report, the Pitt County EMS system continues to lead the way in North Carolina with regard to cardiac arrest management; with its EMS system achieving an an overall cardiac arrest survival rate of 17.9% for year 2018. To simplify, this means approximately 1 out of every 5 people that go into cardiac arrest survive to leave the hospital in Pitt County with a normal neurological status. This bears significantly better than both the state and national averages for 2018, at just 12.5% and 10.4%, respectively. 

Additionally, the Pitt County EMS system is leading in the State for overall cardiac arrest survival among EMS agencies serving populations of more than 100,000 people. For patients meeting “Utstein” criteria, in which an arrest has a "shockable" rhythm, the survival rate reached a 52.2%.

Dr. Portela noted in his letter the significance of this achievement, highly praised the team effort between 911 dispatchers, volunteer fire departments, police agencies, EMS agencies, bystanders, support staff and hospital staff. Additionally, the following highlights were provided:

  • Pitt County EMS took care of 151 non-traumatic cardiac arrests last year
  • Nearly 1 out of every 2 patients get a pulse and are transported to a hospital (44.4%)
  • Approximately 1 out of every 5 people that went into cardiac arrest survived to leave the hospital with a normal neurological status (17.9%)
  • The average cardiac arrest survival in North Carolina is 12.5% and 10.4% nationally
  • The Pitt County EMS system survival was highest in EMS agencies serving populations of more than 100,000 people
  • A little more than 2 out of 3 (70%) cardiac arrests occurred at home, so bystander CPR is extremely important

According to Dr. Portela and other Emergency Medical responders, just a few simple steps within the community could go further in increasing these already significant survival rates. Namely, if residents everywhere learned and practiced Hands-Only CPR, this could have the most noticeable impact in survivability rates in cardiac arrests. Pitt County Emergency Management has produced a free video tutorial for Hands-Only CPR online by CLICKING HERE.  Once Hands-Only CPR has been learned, it is also important that residents download the PulsePoint App to their smartphone or mobile device.  The PulsePoint App provides notifications of nearby cardiac arrests in public areas, allowing bystanders to assist in life-saving Hands-Only CPR until paramedics arrive. In May of 2018, Pitt County became the first local government in NC to launch the app, which is already proving to be a lifesaving tool within the community.  Information and download links for the PulsePoint app can be found online at

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