Telephone CPR: A New Weapon in the Fight against Heart Disease

Fri 2-1-2019

February is American Heart Month, and there's an effort to bring a new weapon to Minnesota in the fight against heart disease. About 350-thousand cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital, and the chances of survival without C-P-R are less than 10-percent. Bystander C-P-R can nearly triple the survival rate, which Minnesota fitness blogger Lindsey Bomgren learned firsthand. During a visit, Bomgren explains that her mother collapsed and was turning blue. She quickly started C-P-R and dialed 9-1-1.


"The 911 dispatcher continued to coach me through it on the phone, which was crucial to basically saving my mom’s life. It was the longest six minutes of my life while I was performing CPR. To just sit there and do nothing, I’d feel helpless. At least I felt like I was doing something."

Bomgren says they were lucky, because not all 9-1-1 dispatchers are trained to coach C-P-R over the phone. Now, health organizations have partnered with 9-1-1 call centers across the state to get a bill introduced this session that would create a standard Telephone C-P-R protocol for 9-1-1 dispatcher training or transfer.

At the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium, Kim Harkins explains in the event of a cardiac-arrest call, 9-1-1 operators could provide C-P-R coaching, or quickly transfer calls to someone else who can assist. And she says the training would be integrated into their work.


"911 dispatchers are clearly trained in so many things. We’re talking about a very talented group of people who this would just supplement what they’re already doing, or take what they’re already doing well and give them additional tips on coaching people to do CPR, so that we can minimize the time to get hands on chest."

While she is actually certified in C-P-R, Bomgren says she was thankful to have calm and clear instructions from the dispatcher on the phone. She hopes policymakers will see the need for a Telephone C-P-R training standard.


"To me, it blows my mind that not all 911 dispatchers are, it just seems like a natural cause-and-effect way to increase survival rates. Wisconsin recently passed legislation and usually, I feel like Minnesota's on the forefront, and this is an initiative that Minnesota just needs to take action on."

During American Heart Month, the American Heart Association is reminding Minnesotans to learn about the risks of cardiovascular disease, take steps to live healthier lives, and learn C-P-R.

**Story courtesy of Minnesota News Connection.