A systematic review showed lay first responders had the highest impact on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival, but called for new strategies to engage more volunteers to increase survivors.
According to a recent Medscape article, early defibrillation by bystanders may double the survival rate after an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest when compared to waiting for EMS arrival. The time to delivery of treatment is so important that the median survival to hospital discharge decreases from 53% when bystanders deliver defibrillation to 28.6% when defibrillation is delayed until the arrival of first responders.
There are two main barriers the article notes as standing in the way of increasing bystander intervention during a cardiac arrest:
- Training the public on how to provide CPR and use an AED. If you work in health care, I’m assuming you’re already CPR/AED certified, but you should encourage your friends and family get trained as well. If you aren’t certified, you can search for an American Heart Association CPR/AED class near you by clicking here. Public availability of AEDs has improved significantly, but without trained bystanders to use them, it makes no difference!
- Awareness of a nearby cardiac arrest. Some U.S. cities and European countries have initiated text alert systems to notify volunteers of a suspected cardiac arrest. There are also apps like Pulse Point and Good Samaritan which I strongly recommend downloading to notify you of a nearby suspected cardiac arrest. These alert systems have been shown to decrease response times, increase CPR and defibrillation rates in cardiac arrest scenarios, and improve survival rates.
Hopefully, improved public awareness and training will increase upon the less than 5% of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients receiving defibrillation before EMS arrives.
To read through the full article, click the link at the top of this post. Also, check out my post on Stop The Bleed, another public health and safety initiative placing importance on bystander training.