EMS systems that have carefully reviewed their survival data in relation to the time it takes to reach the patient have rediscovered the important influence of starting CPR early.
Implementing system changes that shave seconds from the dispatch process in order to get EMS to the patient faster and which result in a shorter time to defibrillation, can improve survival from cardiac arrest.
When 911 call takers are trained to provide assertive compression-only CPR telephone instructions, victims benefit from improved survival in large part due to this bystander CPR. A well-monitored program of dispatcher-assisted CPR can significantly raise bystander CPR rates in your community.18-19 These changes are easily measured and monitored, and can be implemented by any system with few resources. An example of a quality improvement review that can be used to evaluate and improve dispatcher assisted CPR effectiveness is provided in the Appendix.
Providing effective dispatcher CPR instructions is the most effective way to increase bystander CPR rates which can subsequently improve survival rates. While providing community training is a good activity, and is a major avenue for promoting awareness of cardiac arrest, training a majority of individuals in your community is expensive, time consuming and it is a long shot that they will ever need the skill.
911 dispatchers can effectively coach bystanders through CPR, particularly now that compression-only CPR is encouraged. Many resources are available to both educate and evaluate dispatcher assisted CPR programs, and some of the best can be found at the Arizona Share website. The Arizona Share program offers “Dispatch Academies” designed to deliver a sound introduction to SHARE’s 9-1-1 CPR Program through presentations and workshops. Registration is free and courses are held regularly at the Arizona State Laboratory in Phoenix.