The Regional Approach to Cardiovascular Emergencies (RACE) project is a North Carolina statewide system for providing rapid coordinated care of cardiovascular emergencies. Established in 2003, the RACE system incorporates quality improvement efforts of over 119 hospitals, 540 emergency medical agencies and thousands of health care providers working in a coordinated manner to provide timely and lifesaving care. Initially, the RACE system was developed to treat acute myocardial infarction. With an eventual goal to rapidly coordinate the treatment of all cardiovascular emergencies, our current phase called RACE CARS (Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation System) is focusing on out of hospital cardiac arrest.

As the third leading cause of death, cardiac arrest claims 300,000 Americans lives each year. If witnessed, recognized and treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), external defibrillation, and hospital post-arrest care, almost half of victims can survive and return to functional lives. Unfortunately, we currently fall well short of this goal in North Carolina, with only 1 in 5 victims receiving bystander CPR, and only 1 in 20 surviving to hospital discharge. Supported by the Medtronic Foundation HeartRescue Project, and hospitals and emergency medical systems throughout the state, we hope to double survival from cardiac arrest within 5 years.