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NEWS RELEASE · 16th September 2010
BC Ambulance Service
BC Ambulance Service Celebrates 50th Anniversary of CPR

BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) is reporting that improvements in CPR techniques are resulting in increasing cardiac arrest survival rates in B.C.

“All paramedics received training on updated CPR techniques which has resulted in out-of- hospital cardiac arrest survival rates in B.C. rising from 8.7 per cent in 2006 to 10.6 per cent in 2009 and they continue to increase,” said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. “B.C. is one of the best places in North America to survive a cardiac arrest according to information from a research study that includes the BC Ambulance Service.”

In a Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (ROC) study, B.C. was second to Seattle in cardiac arrest survival out of the participating jurisdictions and the rates have continued to rise. ROC is a U.S. and Canada federally-funded resuscitation research initiative involving paramedics and first responders aimed at improving survival from cardiac arrest and major trauma; the ROC includes 11 of the largest jurisdictions in North America including B.C. The cardiac arrest survival results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008.

Cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death and accounts for more than one fifth of all deaths in B.C. The cardiac arrest chain of survival is: recognition of symptoms, calling 9-1-1, early bystander CPR, defibrillation, advanced paramedic care and rapid transport to hospital.

“Data also shows that survival for ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, the types of cardiac arrests most amenable to shock with an automatic external defibrillator, survival rates in B.C. have risen from 23.3 per cent in 2006 to 28.7 per cent in 2008 and continue to rise,” said BCAS Chief Operating Officer Les Fisher. “Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates are rising in B.C. due to a number of factors – improvements in BCAS emergency medical dispatcher- assisted CPR and CPR resuscitation techniques by paramedics, increased early intervention by trained bystanders and innovations in hospital care.”

On September 16, 2010, BCAS is celebrating the milestone 50th anniversary of the invention of CPR by encouraging the public to get training. BCAS Emergency Medical Dispatchers provide instructions for bystanders over the phone during cardiac arrests but learning CPR provides individuals with the best possible chance of helping someone in their time of need. A cardiac arrest victim is four times more likely to survive if someone performs CPR while waiting for further medical care. Eighty per cent of cardiac arrests occur at home, therefore people are more likely to help save a family member than a stranger.

“To help improve cardiac arrest survival rates even further, BCAS is providing crews with greater feedback on the quality of CPR, continuing paramedic training, and ongoing emphasis on dispatcher-assisted telephone CPR instructions,” said Fisher. “Actively participating in research allows us to be on the cutting edge of life-saving innovation.”

The High School CPR Program, operating in conjunction with the Advanced Coronary

Treatment (ACT) Foundation and the paramedics’ union, CUPE 873, has resulted in over 41,000 high school students in 220 secondary schools throughout B.C. being trained each year in CPR. Additionally, BCAS recognized 52 bystanders for contributing to the survival of a cardiac arrest victim with presentation of the BCAS Vital Link Medal in 2008 (the last full year of award presentations).