‘Pit crew’ method helps raise heart attack survivability

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SALT LAKE CITY --Emergency crews are using a new method to help people who suffer heart attacks.

They call it the "pit crew approach," and the Salt Lake City Fire Department has been using it for about two years. Officials said the approach has resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of people who survive the initial coronary episode.

Firefighters set up a demonstration Monday morning in an effort to show what happens when someone comes upon a person suffering from a heart attack.

Once emergency responders arrive, each member of the team goes to a pre-determined area of the victim and performs a specific task. Medical officials said it has taken availability from 30 percent to 50 percent.

James Bach is one of those recent survivors. He suffered a heart attack while at work at Red Butte Gardens. He said he credits the pit crew method with helping him survive the ordeal.

"[I was] unconscious 36 hours before I came back with fairly complete recovery of my faculties, my cognition," Bach said. "I'm a very lucky man."

Firefighters said as a result of the new approach, Salt Lake City now has one of the best heart attack survivability rates in the country.