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Study: Patient outcomes improve when police officers or FFs start CPR

Without first responders’ quick actions, survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests fall by 7-10% every minute


Photo/Rock Valley College

By Leila Merrill

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A new study finds that patient survival rates rise when police officers or firefighters begin CPR in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, but they tend to be underutilized.

For every minute when CPR is not started by hand or with an automated external defibrillator, the patient’s chance of survival falls by 7-10%, according to a paper in “Resuscitation.”

Michigan Medicine researchers analyzed more than 25,000 incidents between 2014 and 2019. They discovered these nonmedical first responders initiated CPR in 31.8% of cardiac arrests not in hospitals, and those actions led to better chances of survival.

“Our findings reinforce what we know: whoever can start CPR and utilize an AED first is the best person to do it,” said Rama Salhi, M.D., M.H.S., M.Sc., lead author of the paper, in a University of Michigan blog post. “Sometimes, that’s bystanders, but for a large percentage who have unwitnessed cardiac arrests, police and fire are on the scene first. Current evidence suggests this may be in upwards of 50% of cardiac arrest calls. In a disease where seconds and minutes matter, this can be lifechanging.”

Salhi also is a national clinical scholar at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.