By David Fleming
One of the great public health intervention programs of modern times was conceived by two Seattle visionaries, a doctor at the University of Washington and a Seattle Fire Department chief, both of whom asked a simple question: “Could behavior change at the fire department change the mortality of the city?”
Today, we know the answer to that question. Thanks to a collaborative partnership between the fire department and the UW, Medic One was born. The program trains first responders, typically firefighters, to deliver on-site advanced life support care to heart attack victims before transporting them to a hospital. Today, your odds of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Seattle are better than anywhere else in the United States. And the Medic One model has been adopted in cities, counties, regions, and countries around the world, speeding emergency response and saving countless lives.
Medic One is just one example of innovations that started in the Seattle area, but are now improving health around the world. Other local innovations include the heart defibrillator, Doppler ultrasound, Sonar, and the wireless telephone, to name a few. Our desire to work together to make life better through innovation is part of the Northwest genome. We’re culturally wired to imagine, to be visionaries, to be partners. To innovate.
This year, PATH observes our 40th anniversary as a member of a powerhouse of global health innovation, a hub that’s grown up here in the Puget Sound region. The Center for Infectious Disease Research launched the same year we did. Health Alliance International opened their doors a decade later. And just 10 years ago, the UW’s Department of Global Health followed suit, along with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA)—among many more organizations—all focused on the world’s most pressing health problems.