The Importance of Dispatcher-Assisted CPR

Understanding dispatcher-assisted CPR

In an emergency of any kind, the general public knows the first step is to call 9-1-1.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can be the most time-critical medical emergency an EMS dispatcher fields, and the well trained dispatcher can make the difference between life and death for a victim of SCA. Dispatcher-Assisted CPR is a 3 step training strategy: Recognition – Engagement – Instruction. This protocol should be followed by all dispatchers.

A victim of SCA collapes and stops breathing suddenly. If the EMS dispatcher has been trained in “dispatch-assisted CPR” they will quickly but calmly ask two questions of the caller: Is the victim responsive? Is the victim breathing normally? If the answer is “No” to these two questions, the well trained dispatcher will take control of the call and within the first minute of the call begin instructing the caller on how to initiate and continue CPR. The ability of the dispatcher to quickly identify sudden cardiac arrest may mean the difference between life and death.

The victim not only needs proper CPR, but will also need an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to shock and reset their heart rhythm. The best scenario for optimal outcome is that there is an AED on the premises and the caller can have someone access it immediately. If there is not an AED available, by instructing the caller in bystander CPR, which according the American Heart Association is the anchor step in the Chain of Survival, the victim will receive vital life-sustaining blood flow to their heart and brain and can prolong ventricular fibrillation (VF) during the critical early minutes after collapse. The AED is as essential as initial CPR and must be used within these early minutes for survival.

We applaud the expertise and skill that our dispatchers have developed and many families have them to thank for their loved one’s survival.

Resuscitation Academy Dispatcher-Assisted CPR Toolkit: