AZ Research Shows 9-1-1 Dispatchers Giving CPR Instruction Saves Lives

Guidelines For Bystanders Before Responders Arrive Cited at Heart Association Meeting

Emergency dispatchers providing life-saving CPR instructions to 9-1-1 callers prior to first responders arriving on scene dramatically increases survival from the leading cause of death, cardiac arrest, according to Arizona research presented Saturday at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions in Chicago.  Cardiac arrest affects about 5,000 people in Arizona every year.

Survival in Arizona is among the highest in the United States and research is proving that the sooner someone receives CPR, the even greater their chances of surviving and returning home.

The three-year Arizona study showed that when the latest AHA’s pre-arrival telephone CPR guidelines published in 2012 were implemented throughout Arizona, the result was an increased the number of bystanders performing CPR as well as survival rates, said Bentley J. Bobrow, MD, medical director of the Bureau of Emergency Medicine Services and Trauma System for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“If I was unlucky enough to have sudden cardiac arrest I would hope I would be lucky enough to do it in Arizona,” said Daniel Spaite, MD, who is also a co-author of the study and director of emergency medicine research at the University of Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center in Phoenix and Tucson.

Under the latest guidelines, emergency dispatchers and call takers provide assertive step-by-step “Telephone-CPR” instructions to bystanders during a 9-1-1 call.

“We believe that this statewide intervention of telephone CPR may be the most efficient and effective way to improve cardiac arrest survival on a large scale and save the most lives from cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Bobrow, who with Dr. Spaite lead the statewide cardiac resuscitation HeartRescue Project, funded by the Medtronic Foundation.

Researchers analyzed and linked nearly 6,000 9-1-1 audio recordings in nine dispatch centers in Arizona during a three-year period with emergency medical service and hospital outcome data. AHA’s recommendations were implemented using a bundled approach of guideline-based protocols, interactive training materials, data collection and a continuous quality improvement program.

The research presented by Dr. Bobrow showed:

• A relative increase in survival of 42 percent from 7.9 percent to 11.2 percent.
• A 41 percent relative increase in the rate of Telephone-CPR from 44 percent to 62 percent.
• The time from call receipt to starting the first chest compression with Telephone-CPR decreased from 178 to 155 seconds.

“That’s really what we care most about is how long it takes to get CPR started,” Dr. Bobrow said. “Cardiac arrest is such a time sensitive condition that every minute your survival goes down by about 7 to 10 percent.”

Seventy percent of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they don’t know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed, according to American Heart Association CPR statistics.

To learn more about CPR, visit or the UA Sarver Heart Center “Learn CPR” webpage: