First up in the EMS news for EMTs and paramedics this week is a look at national cardiac arrest prevention efforts. I found an article recently over at Voice of America News that talks about studies on public perceptions and actions in the face of sudden cardiac arrest. 600,000 people die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. Only about six percent of those who suffer cardiac arrest survive the event.
Good EMS CPR Not Enough
This is not because we in the emergency medical services aren’t doing our jobs. Well, not entirely. It’s because not enough people know what to do and how to help when a cardiac arrest happens right in front of them. This is where we’re dropping the ball, folks.
It’s not in our response to cardiac arrest. Our professionally performed compressions are not the cause. It’s in our failure to properly and thoroughly educate our communities on what to do and how to react when a person collapses right there on the street before we ever get there with our ambulance.
Educating About Cardiac Arrest
I’m a CPR educator in my local area. I hear three common misconceptions when I teach CPR classes. First, people consistently thing that they have to have a current CPR card to do CPR. Second, people are afraid to do vigorous, correct compressions because they might hurt the patient. And third, people are afraid to use AEDs on patients because they might shock themselves or someone else.
All of those commonly heard concerns simply require education, re-education, and reinforcement. This comes down to a community-wide effort to improve cardiac arrest survival and it starts with you and your colleagues in EMS. We need to look at what the systems that are having success are doing to educate their public and emulate what they’re doing.
More Media Attention to Cardiac Arrest
We need consistent and persistent messages in every form of media, newspaper, bulletin board, and local cable channel to tell people that they, not us, save lives in cardiac arrest. We just pick up where they started. If they don’t start the process then we won’t have much chance to make a difference.
So get out there and do something to teach your community how to do even hands-only CPR and get more people backing us up by starting the life-saving process before we get there.
Follow up on the links to this news item and all the other articles and resources in this week’s episode show notes – Live Online Medical Education for EMS and Episode 445.