House OKs Ackerman legislation that would require 911 system to have over-the-phone CPR operators on staff

 

STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today approved legislation introduced by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) that would improve over-the-phone CPR instructions by requiring the 911 system to certify and staff individuals trained in telecommunicator CPR.

The legislation (2021-H 5629) would establish an emergency telephone system call review and quality improvement, and would require all 911 system operators to be trained in telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“911 operators are the real first responders and can make the difference between life and death,” said Representative Ackerman. “When CPR starts before the arrival of an emergency medical technician, the person in cardiac arrest is two-to-three times more likely to survive. T-CPR can help untrained callers provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It can also remind those who are trained how to provide high-quality CPR.”

The legislation comes in the wake of incidents where bystanders were unable to perform CPR, due to a lack of instructions from 911 dispatch. In 2018, Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman, died after she went into cardiac arrest at a Cumberland High School football game. The 911 call takers failed to recognize that Fleury was having a cardiac arrest, and they failed to provide CPR instructions over the phone.

Each year an estimated 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest events occur in the United States in an out-of-hospital environment, according to the American Heart Association, which strongly endorses T-CPR-trained 911 operators. Almost all of these events result in a call for help to 911. Without quick intervention in the form of CPR and defibrillation, death becomes more likely.

“Implementing a policy where operators trained in T-CPR are always on duty could save countless lives,” said Representative Ackerman. “Emergency telecommunicators are a vital link in the lifesaving chain, and this legislation will help to ensure that CPR is being performed before emergency medical personnel arrive.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0385) has been introduced by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

 

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