IN-DEPTH: AHA Working to Make Sure Dispatchers Able to Provide CPR Instruction Over the Phone

November 16, 2018 09:52 AM

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned not every dispatcher in Minnesota is required to be trained to provide life-saving CPR instructions over the phone.

But officials with the American Heart Association are working to change that.


"With cardiac arrest, seconds can be the difference between life and death, or being disabled or having permanent brain damage," Justin Bell of the American Heart Association said.

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In counties like Hennepin and Ramsey, some dispatchers are trained. But others have to transfer the call to a third party. 

In Anoka County, none of the dispatchers are trained to give CPR instruction over the phone. But in Dakota County, all dispatchers are trained.

"You never know what you're going to get or what the capacity is," Bell said. "It's really difficult. 911 dispatchers are severely underfunded. They're overworked. There's a lot of pressure in that job. So making sure they have the resources to perform these tasks is vital.

"It's tough to tell who has those agreements between call centers. Some of them are formal, some of them are informal."

The AHA is working to reintroduce a bill that could make telephone CPR training mandatory in Minnesota, or require the dispatcher transfer the call to someone who is trained. 

The bill failed to get a hearing during the last legislative session. 

It is similar to legislation passed unanimously by the Wisconsin State Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker last April.


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Jackie Cain

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