Telephone CPR: Saving Lives Around the World

New program will help dispatchers and track vital data


Click here to download our dispatcher-assisted CPR training poster, which we encourage you to post in your communications center. A Spanish-language version is also available.

Click here to view Dr. Ben Bobrow's webinar, "Boosting CPR Quality: Saving More Lives from Cardiac Arrest Inside and Outside the Hospital." Sponsor ZOLL Medical Corporation will provide free EMS and nursing CE for the first 500 participants to complete a post-test after the webinar.

It came without warning: One moment Joe Andazola was enjoying a round of golf with some friends, the next he fell to the grass unconscious. His heart had ceased to beat rhythmically—it was fibrillating, no longer pumping blood to his vital organs.

His chances of living were slim. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a leading cause of death worldwide. In the United States, a mere 8% of victims survive and go home with their families. But Joe, a 73-year-old Phoenix resident, was fortunate. A dispatcher at the Phoenix Fire Department recognized the OHCA early in the 9-1-1 call and provided lifesaving CPR instructions to Joe’s golf buddy of many years, a bystander who’d never done CPR.

“Katie Sheridan (the dispatcher) made all the difference, I’m convinced of that,” says Karen Andazola, Joe’s wife. “She taught CPR over the phone and kept them going, doing the compressions I know saved Joe’s life.”

In Arizona, a campaign to maximize rates of bystander CPR has been improving patient outcomes for the past decade. Bystander CPR can yield a two- to threefold increase in survival, yet on average only about a quarter of victims nationally receive it.1–3 Well-trained emergency medical dispatchers and call-takers, however, can help elevate rates of bystander CPR by providing “just-in-time” CPR instructions to 9-1-1 callers.

The Ramsey Social Justice Foundation recently partnered with the Save Hearts in Arizona Registry and Education (SHARE) Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services to create a standardized measurement tool for telephone CPR (T-CPR) and, with assistance from Laerdal, an interactive T-CPR training video for call-takers and dispatchers worldwide. The Ramsey Foundation has also partnered with the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) and Pan-Asian Resuscitation Outcomes Study (PAROS) to spread the latest American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the implementation and measurement of T-CPR.

“We are absolutely delighted to work cooperatively with SHARE, CARES and PAROS, and their international partners, to spread this lifesaving pre-arrival CPR model of care based upon continuous measurement linked to patient outcomes,” says Bob Ramsey, a pioneer in U.S. EMS and ambulance services. “We know from years of experience in EMS, if we can’t measure it, we can’t improve it.”

The one-hour Web-based video teaches the essentials of providing T-CPR, an extremely low-cost intervention that has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives internationally. This massive effort was recently named a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The CGI program was established in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton to challenge international leaders to devise solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. CGI annual meetings have convened more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of leading CEOs, foundation heads and philanthropic leaders to improve the lives of more than 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

The video emphasizes the latest AHA guideline recommendations for T-CPR. It emphasizes three key learning objectives:

  • Recognizing cardiac arrests over the phone;
  • Overcoming barriers and starting type-appropriate CPR instructions as early in calls as possible; and
  • Continuously coaching lay rescuers until emergency medical technicians arrive and take over.
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