The influence of urban, suburban, or rural locale on survival from refractory prehospital cardiac arrest

Am J Emerg Med. 2004 Mar;22(2):90-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2003.12.008.


There are many variables that can have an effect on survival in cardiopulmonary arrest. This study examined the effect of urban, suburban, or rural location on the outcome of prehospital cardiac arrest as a secondary end point in a study evaluating the effect of bicarbonate on survival. The proportion of survivors within a type of EMS provider system as well as response times were compared. This prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical intervention trial enrolled 874 prehospital cardiopulmonary arrest patients encountered by prehospital urban, suburban, and rural regional EMS area. Population density (patients per square mile) calculation allowed classification into urban (>2000/mi2), suburban (>400/mi2), and rural (0-399/mi2) systems. This group underwent standard advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) intervention with or without early empiric administration of bicarbonate in a 1-mEq/kg dose. A group of demographic, diagnostic, and therapeutic variables were analyzed for their effect on survival. Times were measured from collapse until onset of medical intervention and survival measured as the presence of ED vital signs on arrival. Data analysis used chi-squared with Pearson correlation for survivorship and Student t test comparisons for response times. The overall survival rate was approximately 13.9% (110 of 793), ranging from 9% rural, 14% for suburban, and 23% for urban sites for 372 patients (P=.007). Survival differences were associated with classification of arrest locale in this sample-best for urban, suburban, followed by rural sites. There was no difference in time to bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but medical response time (basic life support) was decreased for suburban or urban sites, and intervention (ACLS) and transport times were decreased for suburban sites alone. Although response times were differentiated by location, they were not necessarily predictive of survival. Factors other than response time such as patient population or resuscitation skill could influence survival from cardiac arrest occurring in diverse prehospital service areas.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support*
  • Bicarbonates / administration & dosage
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Heart Arrest / mortality*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Pennsylvania
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rural Population
  • Suburban Population
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Population


  • Bicarbonates