During a stressful, life-or-death situation such as cardiac arrest, dispatchers can tell callers exactly what to do, or help trained callers remember what they learned until paramedics arrive, said Karl Kern, M.D., chair of AHA’s emergency cardiovascular care committee.
Emergency dispatchers should be taught how to give compression-only CPR instructions over the phone, according to updated CPR guidelines for adults and children issued Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 by the American Heart Association.
And it works, Kern said. Research shows bystander CPR rates improve when a 911 operator guides callers through giving chest compressions.
“Doing anything is better than nothing,” said Kern, a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson’s Sarver Heart Center. He said that adding dispatcher-assisted CPR to local 911 systems takes extra effort and training but it’s the right approach.
According to the AHA, the guidelines are used worldwide to train more than 22 million people each year. CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, especially if performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest. Less than half of the more than 350,000 Americans who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year receive CPR from a bystander.
The roughly 7,000 U.S. children who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year are more likely to survive if they receive both chest compressions and rescue breaths, the guidelines say. That’s because cardiac arrest in a child typically results from breathing issues leading to a lack of oxygen, such as drowning.
For adults, however, cardiac arrest is usually caused by a heart issue. This often leaves oxygen in the blood, which can be pumped through the body with compression-only CPR.
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