Dispatcher assisted CPR: implementation and potential benefit. A 12-year study

Resuscitation. 2003 May;57(2):123-9. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9572(03)00005-4.


Objectives: Our objectives are to describe details of the dispatcher assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction program we implemented during a 12 years study and to provide estimates of the potential number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that might benefit from such instruction based on data from the last 77 months.

Methods: Basic data were obtained for all episodes of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the city of Seattle, as well as all emergency medical services (EMS) dispatches for suspected cardiac arrest. In addition to EMS run reports, data sources included audio tapes of dispatches, and interviews of callers. These data were used in a potential benefit analysis.

Results: Over a period of 77 months, 54% (3320/6130) of cardiac arrests received advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) by Seattle Fire Department emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. We estimated that 29.9% (994/3320) of cardiac arrests in Seattle treated by EMS could have theoretically benefited from dispatcher assisted CPR. No serious adverse consequences of a dispatcher assisted CPR program were observed. Failure to identify a cardiac arrest by dispatchers was largely attributed to deviation from a well-defined protocol. However, non-arrests identified, initially as arrests appeared to be unavoidable.

Conclusions: In the city of Seattle, some 29.9% of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims who received ACLS had the potential to benefit from dispatcher assisted CPR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / methods*
  • Critical Pathways
  • Emergency Medical Service Communication Systems*
  • Female
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Heart Arrest / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Washington