CPR Statistics and Survival Rates in Georgia

How does Atlanta compare to other cities in terms of CPR survival rates?  Every year, there are dozens of studies that reveal the effectiveness of bystander CPR intervention, but there is very little data that shows location-specific results.  In recent years, hospitals and healthcare providers around the state of Georgia have revamped cardiac arrest protocols, which have increased the survival rate for victims.

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) afflicts hundreds of thousands of victims every year.  Only within the past decade have schools, private businesses, and other public spaces made a direct effort to increase the chances of survival during a healthcare emergency.  Nationally, survival rates still hover around 5-10% for out-of-hospital resuscitation attempts.  

While the City of Atlanta doesn’t publicly release annual CPR statistics in accordance with healthcare privacy laws, there is still a great deal of revealing information about how the city performs.  It is important to keep in mind that there are dozens of factors that affect the likelihood of survival for a heart attack victim or cardiac arrest patient.  For example, the time that it takes an ambulance to arrive is a huge contributing factor – and Atlanta is a much larger city than many others, so the city’s geographic size may contribute to lower rates of survival.

Another contributing factor could be socioeconomic in nature.  Data shows that lower income areas have significantly fewer CPR-certified individuals.  Sadly, only about 30% of Americans even know the basics of first aid administration, and that number could be even lower in areas without a solid economic foundation.

Let’s review some key information and metrics that affect Atlanta’s CPR administration rate and survival percentages:

  • In 2008, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that there would be widespread funding cuts in Fulton County hospitals.  Public officials predicted that ambulance response times would only increase by an average of 4 minutes, but when we’re talking about cardiac arrest, the chances for survival decrease by as much as 7-10% for every minute.  The average national response time is about 9 minutes, which decreases the chances of survival to only single digits, so even a negligible increase in response time could have sweeping effects on Atlanta CPR survival rates.  
  • In good news, Atlanta has one of the highest numbers of total CPR-trained residents in the country.  According to USA Today’s “State of Emergency Medical Services Across the USA: How 50 Major Cities Stack Up,” Atlanta was reported to have more than 100,000 individuals trained in CPR and/or first aid.  That number is significantly higher than other cities, like New Orleans (40,000 individuals) and even Chicago (76,000 individuals). 
  • In 2003, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin started a new initiative to train all city employees to be trained in CPR and first aid – that’s over 8,000 people.  Over the next few years, Atlanta saw CPR survival rates climb from a dismal 3% to 15% by 2005.  While this increase is trending in the right direction, Atlanta still lags behind behind other cities like Boston (38% survival rate) and Seattle (62%),
  • In cardiac arrest cases, bystander CPR is administered in about 17% of cases.  This rate is more than double what it was 15 years ago and slightly higher than the national average. 

Atlanta has been an integral part of improving the way cities and medical professionals examine cardiac arrest data.  With the help of Emory University and the CDC, Atlanta was the first city to use CARES (Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival).  CARES examines a wide range of factors that affect the “survivability” of a cardiac arrest victim: did a bystander administer aid?  What was the ambulances response time?  Where did the incident happen?  Are there any demographic disparities in the data?

With the help of the CARES program, more than 55 cities (covering more than 80 million people) have been able to identify areas where they can improve their emergency response systems and develop initiatives that are better equipped to handle these cases.

While Atlanta still isn’t a model city for CPR survival rates, it has made huge strides in training residents, collecting data, and getting the public to care about first aid.  The only way for the city to continue making improvements is for residents to take the initiative of learning CPR on their own.  Medical professionals have always pointed out that community response is one of the most important parts of saving a cardiac arrest victim – and getting certified couldn’t be easier.  Call your local AHA-approved training team at CPR Training Source for more information about how you can learn.