About a year ago Ben Bobrow, MD (our EMS Medical Director) came into my office with a great idea to set up a program to train 911 dispatchers in better ways to coach callers through CPR instructions so callers can do a better job before the paramedics get there. The problem was money. So I sent him over to our chronic disease prevention team that controls a 2002 voter approved fund which places tobacco tax revenue into a prevention and early detection fund. Ben got with Wayne Tormala and his team funded and put together the intervention.
Our team put together and executed training for 911 dispatchers so they can guide the bystander in starting CPR quicker and better. Led by Dr. Ben Bobrow & CPR Dispatch Program Manager Micah Panczyk, the ADHS Telephone-Assisted CPR program trains 911 dispatch staff on how to guide a caller on the delivery of chest-compression-only CPR. That’s real important- because survival drops by 10% for every minute delay in starting CPR- and the typical wait time for an ambulance is between 5 and 8 minutes.
Our built in measurement tools suggest that (once implemented statewide) we can expect to save 660 lives every year in AZ with this intervention alone. It just goes to show you that public health can save lives in unusual ways if you have creative and energetic folks that work together.
By the way- the national survival rate for cardiac arrest is between 5 and 8%. Not here. Because of interventions like this one, Arizona’s (witnessed) cardiac arrest survival rate is 32%- 4 to 5 times better than the national average. Some of our efforts got some great media coverage in the Arizona Republic and on KVOA in Tucson.