PORTLAND, Ore. — Dispatcher-assisted CPR has improved cardiac arrest outcomes in Washington County. Since implementing the life-saving instructions for hands-only CPR in 2011 there has a dramatic increase in patient saves.
In 2011, Washington County (Ore.) dispatchers made three life-saving assists. In 2012, there were 14. In 2013, that number grew to 22. Last year, Washington County 911 dispatchers helped save 31 lives by providing CPR assistance, reported KGW.
The Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency changed the way dispatchers handle cardiac arrest calls. The agency followed the 2010 American Heart Association guidelines which allowed for hands-only CPR as an alternative instruction for emergency dispatchers to provide to callers.
The impact of the hands-only instructions is changing outcomes for the better.
"It's far greater than anyone expected," said Mark Chandler, performance manager for the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency. "Previously, we wouldn't get to the compressions unless we knew that somebody did an effective rescue breath. So that could take three, four, five, six or seven or eight minutes.
Now, CPR is initiated as soon as Washington County dispatchers suspect CPR may help, and the closest responders - police, fire, or EMS - are dispatched.
"About 50 percent of the time that we do compressions, they don't need them. But we have determined that nobody is going to get seriously injured," Chandler said. "They might get a rib that is broken. On the other hand, if they need CPR and they don't get it, the outcome is guaranteed. That would be death."