Introduction: In medical emergencies involving out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs), bystanders reasonably, but sometimes incorrectly, expect that a call to 911 will result in a dispatcher guiding the caller through the steps of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Objectives: The primary objective of this research is to investigate the role of the dispatcher and dispatcher-assisted telephone-CPR (TCPR) in survival rates of OHCAs. This naturally led to an evaluation of the data collection practices of public safety answering points (PSAPs), emergency medical service (EMS) and fire departments, and hospitals for their ability to track a patient from the onset of an OHCA through to the outcome.
Methods: For the three PSAPs in the Des Moines metropolitan area that provide TCPR as part of their emergency dispatch system, data regarding the phone call for help and the patient life status post-OHCA were collected from the PSAPs and their responding fire or EMS departments.
Results: From the three PSAPs, one EMS department and sixteen fire departments were surveyed. Many were eliminated from the final evaluation due to their status as volunteer departments or lack of available data. In all, one PSAP, one EMS department, and one fire department could be analyzed. Together they reported only 84 OHCAs, 13 instances of TCPR, and one surviving patient.
Conclusions: While the data was insufficient for evaluation of the effectiveness of TCPR, it was valuable in exposing a need for the creation of a standardized data collection database.