If you become the victim of a heart attack in Baltimore County, your chances of survival just got better.
The Baltimore County Fire Department announced Thursday morning that it received almost $2 million in federal grant money to purchase state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment for victims of cardiac arrest.
The fire department received the $1.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters grant fund. The money will pay for 60 machines that serve as electrocardiogram monitors, defibrilators and pacemakers—one for every career and volunteer medic unit in the county as well as each Emergency Medical Services district supervisor.
Kenneth “Boh” Hatter, a football coach at Calvert Hall College, told the crowd gathered for the Thursday press conference how first responders saved his life when he went into sudden cardiac arrest two years ago.
“I was playing basketball up the street at Immaculate Heart of Mary when I collapsed,” Hatter said. A Baltimore County EMS team responded and was able to resuscitate Hatter using a defibrilator before taking him to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“There were a number of heroic acts that took place on my behalf,” Hatter said. “‘We’re very happy to be here today,’ has taken on a very personal, very literal quality to it.”
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the grant along with the “Maryland team” of federal legislators—Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger—instrumental in creating the grant program, and later obtaining the grant money for Baltimore County.
The announcement was made a press conference held at Parkville’s fire station, which Kamenetz called “our defibrillator capital.”
Mikulski explained the importance of aggressive cardiac care—calling it the “best chance” to survive cardiac arrest—especially within the first 60 seconds after a patient collapses, which Mikulski called the “golden minute.”
According to the Baltimore County Project Heartbeat website, if a cardiac arrest victim receives a shock within one minute, the chance of resuscitation is 90 percent. The chance of resuscitation drops to 5 percent if the victim waits 10 minutes for a shock.
The federal grant will also provide $90,000 to install a sprinkler system at the aging Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department and pay for that department to acquire new thermal imaging devices that will help them to save lives more effectively.
According to a Baltimore County press release, since the federal Assistance to Firefighters grant was created in 2001, Baltimore County has received more than $9 million of the $675 million distributed to counties and cities around the country.