RACER – An Emergency Response Solution for Rural Communities

Illiana Rural Access to Cardiac Emergency Response (RACER) Program

In September 2013, Union Hospital’s Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health (Lugar Center) was one of 10 recipients nationally to be awarded the Rural Access to Emergency Devices (RAED) Grant through the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). With this funding The Lugar Center developed the Illiana RACER program to answer the call for emergency response assistance in rural Indiana and Illinois. The purpose of the project was to advance a community partnership in rural west-central Indiana and east-central Illinois in the purchase and strategic deployment of automated emergency defibrillators (AED’s) in eligible areas and train first responders and lay persons in their use. The project also provided cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.

The targeted communities were identified based on their incidence of cardiovascular disease and risky health behaviors, as well as unique demographic and geographic features that predispose them to lengthy Emergency Medical Services response times. These factors included:

  • EMS response times

  • the number of times an AED was needed within the past 12 months

  • sites of large public gatherings

  • distance to the closest AED

  • time of accessibility

  • having a number of licensed emergency medical personnel without AEDs

  • locations where AED access is limited by topography

  • high county cardiac mortality rates

  • having slower than average EMS response times.

In the course of the three year project, RACER distributed a total of 138 AED’s to seven counties in Indiana and Illinois. It further held 406 courses in CPR and AED use to 6,025 individuals in respective locations. These participants make up approximately 4.4% of the population of the seven counties included. The following tables illustrate the distribution of services across the counties:

The placement of AEDs in the rural communities was a priority in the allocation of the AEDs. There best indicator of successful AED placement is making available the devices when it is needed to save someone’s life. Since the first deployment of AEDs within the targeted counties, there have been over a dozen device uses and several lives saved. One of which was Vermillion County Deputy Sheriff, Tim DisPennett who was saved by a bystander trained in Hands-only CPR. Later an AED was used to resuscitate the deputy sheriff. (INSERT SHERIFF VIDEO)

This is partly a result of the overwhelming confidence trainees have after participating in the courses. An average of 97% identified themselves with the following responses after their learning experience: “I am confident I can use the skills this course taught me,” and “I will respond in an emergency because of the skills I learned in this course.”

[endif]--To ensure continuity of the project beyond the three years of funding, steps were taken by the Lugar Center to establish longevity within partner organizations. These steps included a memorandum agreement used between the Project Director/Principal Investigator and the representative of each site who received a device to transfer the ownership and to ensure the sustainability of the equipment within the recipient site by including in the MOA the requirement that the recipient site have an AED policy. The sustainability of the project was secured for the foreseeable future when the communities involved, with the help of the Lugar Center, created an Advisory Board. Having seen the importance of the project first hand, the Advisory Board ensured that future trainers were available to train the community on AED and CPR use. In 2018, two years after grant funding ended, the project continues to thrive as hundreds of community members train one another each year. ![endif]--

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