Madison Fire Awarded National Honor for Exceptional Work in Cardiac Arrest Survival, Education

Madison Fire is presented with the Heart Safe Community Award at the IAFC Conference

Madison is named a 'Heart Safe Community' by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). This prestigious national award is bestowed upon only two fire departments in the United States by the IAFC and the PulsePoint Foundation for their work in improving cardiac arrest survival rates in their community, among other innovations. The Madison Fire Department won in the "large community" category.

At the 2024 IAFC national conference, the IAFC and PulsePoint Foundation recognized the Madison Fire Department for its exceptional work in improving outcomes for patients who experience sudden cardiac arrest. The Madison Fire Department was credited for its innovative approach to community education surrounding CPR, proper AED usage, and public CPR/AED awareness campaigns via social media and other online platforms. 

"These departments have been recognized for their community risk reduction and special achievements in areas like bystander CPR, AED deployment, partnerships with local hospitals, their communication and outreach programs, and the use of mobile technology to alert citizen and off-duty responders to nearby cardiac arrest events, just to name a few," said IAFC President and Chairman of the Board, Fire Chief John Butler, Fairfax County (VA) Fire.

Madison Fire is also proud to consistently stand among national leaders in cardiac arrest survival rates. In 2022, the local survival rate for patients with a shockable heart rhythm who experienced a witnessed cardiac arrest, and who received chest compressions from a bystander, was 72.2%. Madison's average for patients being discharged from the hospital fully neurologically intact following cardiac arrest was nearly double the national average (13.8% locally versus 7.5% nationally).

"This award highlights the community-focused success that comes from positive collaborations with local hospitals and emergency departments, the Dane County Public Safety Communications (911), and other first responders in the City and County," said Madison Fire Chief Chris Carbon. "A collaborative and unified approach to the prevention and treatment of cardiac arrest is the true key to success, and we are grateful to have so many dedicated partners in this effort."

Among its achievements is Madison Fire's commitment to protecting large community events with AED-equipped rapid response teams. These events include marathons, festivals, concerts, and UW athletic events. Madison Fire has also increased the EMS response to cardiac arrest 911 calls to include 10 personnel (8 firefighter/EMTs and 2 firefighter/Paramedics) and a mechanical CPR device. Following a cardiac arrest response, CPR feedback reports are shared with all responders and dispatchers for the purposes of quality assurance and professional development.

“Cardiac arrest survival hinges on a well-coordinated series of events," said Dr. Megan Gussick, Medical Director for the Madison Fire Department. "The success of the Madison Fire Department is not solely attributable to the outstanding care provided by our EMTs and Paramedics. Equally crucial are the instructions given by our 911 dispatchers to bystanders, the community's involvement in CPR training, community member participation in the PulsePoint app, as well as the exceptional care our patients receive upon reaching the hospital.”

Madison has been a PulsePoint-connected community since 2015, putting the lifesaving power of CPR in the hands of everyday people through a mobile app that alerts users to a nearby cardiac arrest. PulsePoint use in Dane County has grown to approximately 8,900 users since its launch nine years ago. Additionally, 336 members of the Madison Fire Department are enrolled in the PulsePoint Professional Responder program, with 110 of them having been issued AEDs for use when off-duty in the community.  

Each month, the Madison Fire Department makes hands-only CPR and AED classes available for free to the community. These classes increase public awareness about the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest while increasing confidence in one's ability to provide chest compressions until EMS personnel arrive. The Madison Fire Department EMS Training Division has also provided direct CPR/AED instruction to private businesses and workplaces, as well as to other City of Madison agencies. 

In Madison, bystanders performed CPR on 62.8% of cardiac arrest calls in 2022, as compared to 40% nationally, directly contributing to the higher survival rate in our community. 

The Madison Fire Department proudly accepts this distinguished honor from the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the PulsePoint Foundation. The recognition inspires us to continue pursuing innovative approaches toward increasing cardiac arrest survival and further strengthen our partnerships with our local hospitals, 911 dispatchers, and members of the community who may someday save a life.

Division Chief Jerry Buechner and Division Chief Chris Hammes stand next to display honoring the 2024 Heart Safe Communities
Division Chief Jerry Buechner (left) and Division Chief Chris Hammes (right) accepted the Heart Safe Community Award on behalf of Madison Fire.
Was this page helpful to you?