BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In case of an emergency, you depend on 911 to not only connect you with the resources you need, but also to provide guidance on what to do. If the emergency involves a cardiac event, seconds can make the difference between life and death.
CPR is one of the most critical tools during a cardiac emergency. A patient who receives CPR is much more likely to survive. However, in Louisiana, 911 dispatchers are not necessarily trained to walk a caller through the steps of CPR.
"That's the disconcerting fact here. When we look at the literature, in fact, a minority of dispatch centers provide telephone CPR instructions," said emergency physician, Dr. Michael Kurz, volunteer chair of the American Heart Association's T-CPR Taskforce.
While most dispatchers in East Baton Rouge Parish are trained as paramedics, not all centers have medics answering the phones, especially those in more rural areas. However, the American Heart Association is pushing to make sure every 911 dispatcher is trained to provide telephone CPR or T-CPR. Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill that makes the requirement law in Louisiana. The proposal was sponsored by State Senator Troy Carter, who lost his grandfather to a heart attack.
"This is deeply personal to me, having a loved one who could have potentially survived had T-CPR been available," said Carter. "We can help make sure survival is the more common outcome of cardiac arrest with the help of CPR guidance over the phone."
Kurz explains the training would only require a few additional hours for dispatchers, with refresher courses every year.
"Most people do not take CPR training," said Kurz. "Or if they do, they don't brush up on it, and so most of our population does not know what to do when they witness a sudden cardiac arrest. Most often, the person they cannot help is a loved one. But anyone can be a hero, even a panicked child, with the help of T-CPR."
In addition to Louisiana, two other states have passed laws requiring T-CPR training.