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A Step to Save Thousands of Lives: T-CPR

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death with more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) occurring each year in the United States. Last year, 1,417 OHCA took place in Utah. Only 1 in 10 individuals survive this traumatic event. It strikes suddenly and without warning, and what happens in the first few minutes can mean the difference between life and death. For every minute without Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), survival from a witnessed cardiac arrest decreases 7-10 percent. With emergency medical services (EMS) response times in many rural areas, the need for CPR to be initiated prior to EMS arrival is even greater. However, there is a strategy that can be used to increase the likelihood of survival by 51% compared to no lay rescuer CPR.

Early access to 911 and CPR are the first two links to survival. Early lay CPR approximately doubles chances for survival. Dispatchers can and should be trained to provide CPR instructions to bystanders. They can coach callers with real-time, step-by-step instructions, enabling those callers to become lifesavers while awaiting EMS arrival. This is known as dispatcher-assisted CPR (or telephone CPR). Currently, T-CPR is not a requirement for dispatchers. We must ensure that all dispatchers receive this training, and as a result, all callers are provided with this important instruction.

Dispatcher-assisted CPR has been shown to significantly increase bystander CPR rates and cardiac arrest survival. It has the potential to increase the chances by 15% of a bystander to step-in and perform CPR. Real experiences also show that even trained bystanders may need coaching during this difficult and often frantic time. Even those without previous CPR knowledge can quickly be instructed. Dispatcher assisted CPR is also an effective and low-cost strategy to improve cardiac arrest survival, yet it is underutilized. More comprehensive implementation of CPR pre-arrival instructions has the potential to save numerous lives each year.

 

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