Telephone CPR becomes law in Kentucky
During a cardiac event, every second that passes can mean the difference between life and death.
Without CPR, damage to the brain can occur within four minutes of the cardiac event, and irreversible damage will likely result after eight to 10 minutes, according to DOCJT Telecommunications Instructor Sarah Powell, a licensed paramedic with the Georgetown-Scott County Emergency Medical Service.
According to cpr.heart.org, each year an estimated 350,000 sudden cardiac-arrest (SCA) events occur in the United States in an out-of-hospital environment. Almost all of these events result in a 911 call for help. Without quick intervention in the form of CPR and defibrillation, death from SCA is certain.
In an effort to improve survival odds, a new law that went into effect July 14, 2018 mandates that all Kentucky dispatch agencies provide a means for telephone CPR.
“(Agencies) will have to be certified in telephone CPR,” DOCJT Telecommunications Supervisor Monica Pattison said. “That means they’re going to be required to give CPR instructions over the phone to anyone who may need it.”
According to KRS 15.550, certified dispatchers must be trained using nationally-recognized emergency cardiovascular care guidelines. Online training using nationally-recognized practices are acceptable, according to the KRS.
“At a minimum, this training shall incorporate recognition protocols for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, compression-only CPR instructions for callers, and continuing education as appropriate,” the law states.
Dispatch agencies have a secondary option of establishing an agreement with another Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) service to provide T-CPR, Pattison said.
“If you’re a tiny agency and you’ve got other phones ringing or you’re not able to provide (CPR instructions) for whatever reason, you have to have an agreement set up with another agency ahead of time so you can transfer the call to that agency and it will provide T-CPR.”
DOCJT’s Public Safety Dispatch academy already included T-CPR training. DOCJT teaches an Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) course, which covers T-CPR, Pattison said.
“T-CPR is a portion of the (EMD) training,” Pattison said. “They have that certification, but that doesn’t mean their employing agency requires them to provide EMD. Some agencies don’t, unfortunately. With this new law, however, at the very least, they’re required to provide T-CPR instructions or transfer the call to an agency that does.”
The certification is effective for two years. After that, Pattison said the agency must pursue re-certification through a vendor.
DOCJT will not offer an additional dedicated course on T-CPR, Pattison said.
“EMD already covers it, and it covers more than T-CPR,” she said.
The American Heart Association pushed for the bill. According to AHA, there are free, online training agencies can take advantage of in order to meet the requirements. The online training would only cover CPR compressions. It does not include breathing or other EMD instructions.
According to the law, a dispatcher is only required to provide verbal instructions once, Pattison said, but dispatchers who are able to provide an extended level of care are encouraged to do so.
“Once you have given the instructions, you have met the requirement,” Pattison said. “You don’t have to stay on the phone and repeat the instructions over and over again. If you could, that would be the best practice if you don’t have other calls.”
For more information on the new law, review KRS 15.550 and KRS 15.585.