In Oct. 2015, the Heart and Stroke Foundation released updates to resuscitation, emergency cardiovascular care and first aid in Canada that include using everyday technology to improve bystander response to cardiac arrest.
For example, the 2015 Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) expand on how mobile phones can increase the chances of surviving this type of emergency. (This PDF has detailed highlights of the new guidelines.)
Since the guidelines were last updated five years ago, the number of Canadians who carry a cell phone has increased dramatically. And with the growing number of Emergency Medical Systems who now train dispatchers to be CPR coaches, CPR can now be started immediately—even by people who’ve never taken a course.
“The most effective CPR is started within the first one to two minutes but EMS is typically several minutes away. If the 911 call is made from a mobile phone set on speaker and placed at the victim’s side, there is no delay in starting CPR,” says Dr. Andrew Travers, Heart and Stroke Foundation expert and International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation delegate. “When you call 911, the dispatcher should be able to provide calm, clear directions on basic hands-only CPR.”
Another change in the new guidelines is recognition that CPR doesn’t need to be perfect to have benefits.
“Fast action – any action – can save a life. Many people hold back from doing CPR because they are panicked and may be afraid of harming the person or are afraid they may do it wrong,” says Travers, “but what we are saying here is that unless you act, that person has very little chance of survival. Starting with the 911 call, you can help that person survive.”
So the guidelines reinforce the concept of good, better, best:
- Good: (particularly if you’ve never learned CPR), call 911 and follow the dispatcher’s directions
- Better: learn hands-only CPR and defibrillation
- Best: learn CPR that includes rescue breathing and defibrillation.
How do the new CPR guidelines impact safety professionals?
Many workplaces are required to have first aiders, who usually must be trained in CPR. If your workplace is one of them, ensure that your first aiders get updated training on the new CPR and first aid requirements in the new guidelines.
It’s also a good idea to make the rest of the workforce aware of the new guidelines and how they can help someone in cardiac arrest even without formal training.