A New Direction for CPR Training

"We have always had a one-size-fits-all approach, blanketing a whole area with CPR training, and we assume that will get to everyone," said Dr. Comilla Sasson, M.D., MS, the statement's lead author.

Here's hoping the scientific statement recently published by the American Heart Association succeeds at raising the nation's poor survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. AHA’s brainstorm has the virtue of simplicity: target CPR education to high-risk neighborhoods.

Bystanders perform CPR only 40 percent of the time, and participation rates vary widely, as do out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates, according to AHA, which said the national survival rate has been stuck at about 9.5 percent for three decades.

The statement calls for communities to determine which of their neighborhoods have a high incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and low rates of bystander CPR by using geographic information systems to map the location of each cardiac arrest. It says they should then focus public education efforts in the high-risk neighborhoods.

"We have always had a one-size-fits-all approach, blanketing a whole area with CPR training, and we assume that will get to everyone," Dr. Comilla Sasson, M.D., MS, the statement's lead author and assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, said in a Feb. 25 AHA news release. "We are now saying that we need to shift our thinking to target CPR training to the areas where it is most needed. You have to have that kind of data to understand there are going to be specific areas that need to be targeted to increase awareness of cardiac arrest symptoms and how to do bystander CPR."

She said charting the addresses of everyone who receives CPR training also can be helpful: "Are we hitting the same people who have always been trained and not really impacting these higher-risk neighborhoods?"

The statement also recommends a standardized dispatcher-assisted telephone program for 9-1-1 operators to provide CPR instructions to willing bystanders. Co-authors of the statement are Hendrika Meischke, Ph.D.; Benjamin S. Abella, M.D., MPH; Frederick Masoudi, M.D., MPH; Michael R. Sayre, M.D.; Robert A. Berg, M.D.; Bentley J. Bobrow, M.D.; Marcus Ong, M.D.; Elisabeth Dowling Root, Ph.D.; Paul S. Chan, M.D., M.Sc.; Michele Heisler, M.D., MPH; Jerrold H. Levy, M.D.; Mark Link, M.D.; John S. Rumsfeld, M.D., Ph.D.; and Thomas D. Rea, M.D., MPH.

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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