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Five Minutes to Live

Art Schulze

Sound | 1970s

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  •  A man has a heart attack at work and 911 is called 
  •  Paramedics take the man’s vitals and insert an IV 
  •  The heart must first be completely stopped before a defibrillator shock will be given to jumpstart it again 
  •  CPR is given 
  •  Sodium bicarbonate counteracts any blood acidosis, an overproduction of acid resulting from the heart stopping  
  •  After the patient is stabilized, they are taken into the ambulance to the hospital 
  •  The technology that developed new instruments to measure astronaut blood pressure also made standard blood pressure measuring systems possible: beats are picked up and measured by a digital readout 
  •  The Harris County Medical Society was formed to improve the emergency response and healthcare of Houston’s major hospitals 
  •  The technology for the Houston Emergency Medical Care System would not have been available had not NASA required it to reach their space missions  
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Produced for NASA by the Houston-based A-V Corporation, this 1970s government film demonstrates how paramedics use NASA technology to respond to heart attacks. The agency originally developed the technology for emergency resuscitation for the manned space program. The ability of first responders to communicate directly with hospital doctors via instant voice and EKG transmission marked a major breakthrough for Earthbound emergency medical services. NASA also pioneered technology for microwelding and microassembly, making it possible for paramedics to carry all necessary tools in a 40-pound CPR toolkit.
As the scope of the American space program grew, NASA’s Space Task Group realized it would need to expand into its own facility if it were to successfully land a man on the Moon. In 1961, the agency’s selection team chose a 1,000-acre cow pasture in Houston, Texas, as the proposed center’s location site, owing to its access to water transport and commercial jet service, moderate climate, and proximity to Rice University. In September 1963, the facility opened as the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC). 
The Center became the focal point of NASA’s manned spaceflight program, developing spacecraft for Projects Gemini and Apollo, selecting and training astronauts, and operating the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Beginning with Gemini 4 in June 1965, MSC’s Mission Control Center also took over flight control duties from the Mercury Control Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the facility managed all subsequent manned space missions, including those related to Projects Gemini and Apollo, the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Shuttle Orbiters, and the International Space Station.
In 1973, the MSC was renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native Lyndon B. Johnson. (As Senate Majority Leader, Johnson sponsored the 1958 legislation that established NASA.) The Center continues to lead NASA’s efforts in space exploration, training both American and international astronauts, managing missions to and from the International Space Station, and operating scientific and medical research programs.