LUCI WELDON/The Warren Record

The Duke Clinical Research Institute presents Warren County Emergency Medical Services with 10 automated external defibrillators last week through Duke Clinical Research Institute’s Randomized Cluster Evaluation of Cardiac Arrest Systems Trial, also known as RACE CARS. Pictured, from the left, are Vincent Jones, Warren County manager; Joel Bartholomew, Warren County Emergency Services director/fire marshal; Sheila Baskett, Warren County 911 Coordinator; Karen Solomon, senior administrative assistant with Warren County Emergency Services; Chris Tucker, emergency manager/compliance officer with Warren County Emergency Services; Dr. Konstantin Kryshtiuk, RACE CARS research fellow; and Dr. Christopher Granger, principal investigator, who oversees the RACE CARS project.

On Nov. 16, representatives of Duke Clinical Research Institute’s Randomized Cluster Evaluation of Cardiac Arrest Systems Trial, also known as RACE CARS, presented 10 automated external defibrillators to Warren County Emergency Medical Services. The AEDs will be placed in high traffic locations across the county to equip communities with technology that can increase a patient’s chances of surviving cardiac arrest.

According to the RACE CARS trial website, the project is designed to test the implementation of community interventions to improve survival for people with cardiac arrest, one of the main causes of death in North Carolina and in the United States.

Warren County EMS joined the RACE CARS Trial in July 2021. The trial, which will continue over a total of seven years, emphasizes not only the importance of making AEDs accessible in high traffic locations in communities, but also training as many people as possible to perform CPR.

Duke Clinical Research Institute’s Dr. Christopher Granger, who oversees the RACE CARS project, described the program as an example of community engagement at its best. The project involves all aspects of emergency response — emergency medical services, 911 dispatch, law enforcement, fire department first responders and many others — along with community organizations and churches.

“This is God’s work to help your neighbor,” Granger said. “There is no better way to help your neighbor than to save their life.”

He said that what happens in the first 10 minutes after a patient goes into cardiac arrest determines whether he or she will survive.

For Granger and local emergency responders, enabling more people to survive cardiac arrest means ensuring that as many people in the community as possible know how to perform CPR.

Warren County 911 Coordinator Sheila Baskett said that the first 120 seconds after someone calls 911 are critical. She said that callers must listen carefully to the instructions given by telecommunicators, adding that to give patients the best chance of survival, callers must begin hands-on compression CPR within 120 seconds.

Warren County Emergency Medical Services is working to ensure that more local residents are ready to perform CPR in an emergency. Between July 1 and earlier this month, 747 Warren County residents have completed training offered by EMS.

EMS has no intention of stopping there. Chris Tucker, emergency manager/compliance officer with Warren County Emergency Services, said that he made an agreement with Duke that 2,100 local residents, 10 percent of the county’s population, would receive CPR training between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.

Through this partnership, Warren County EMS was able to receive the 10 AEDs last week. They will be placed in locations including Warren Corners shopping center in Norlina, Food Lion shopping center at Lake Gaston, Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School in Hollister, downtown Warrenton and Norlina, Warren County Department of Social Services, and other county facilities where there is a lot of foot traffic, Tucker said.

County Manager Vincent Jones commended Warren County Emergency Services Director Joel Bartholomew and Tucker for working with Duke to foster a relationship with Warren County. He said that because Warren County faces challenges related to healthcare because it is a rural community. Jones believes that the AEDs will allow local residents to help provide critical care if someone goes into cardiac arrest.

“This is a significant asset to the county,” he said. “I really appreciate Duke Health for recognizing the impact they will have in the community.”

Bartholomew expressed thanks to all of the agencies and individuals involved in the RACE CARS Trial and commended Tucker for his work.

Granger praised the work of the local emergency medical services.

“Warren County EMS does an outstanding job,” he said.

Tucker commended all EMS workers — paramedics and emergency medical technicians — for their work to save lives. He also said that data that these emergency personnel gather will be critical to the RACE CARS project

“Without them, we wouldn’t have a (RACE CARS) program,” he said. “They are doing constant work to increase the survival rate.”

For Bartholomew, Tucker, Baskett and everyone involved in emergency response, saving lives is the reason why they do what they do every day. Tucker quoted Abraham Lincoln: “Next to creating a life, the finest thing a man can do is save one.”

The motto, “Where you live should NOT determine whether you live,” has a prominent place on the RACE CARS website. That is what drives Tucker and everyone else involved with the project at the local level.

“I will do everything in my power to give someone here the same fighting chance as someone in a bigger town,” he said.

Civic organizations, churches and individuals may contact Chris Tucker at 252-257-1191 or ChrisTucker@warrencountync.gov about any classes they would like to have.