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.

via Bystander CPR Best Hope for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest? — Medscape Medical News Headlines

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 standing in the way of increasing bystander intervention during a cardiac arrest:

  1. Training the public on how to provide CPR and use an AED. If you work in healthcare, I’m assuming you’re likely 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!
  2. 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 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 events, 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. Let me say that again: Only 5% of cardiac arrest patients receive defibrillation before EMS arrives on the scene!

To read the full article, click the link at the top of this post. Also, check out my post on Stop The Bleed, another public health initiative placing importance on bystander training.