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Research on CPR Dispatch Instructions in LEP Populations May Result in Improvements for All

When it comes to saving lives, seconds matter. That’s why the Seattle King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is piloting new evidence-based dispatch instructions for adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

July 21, 2011

When it comes to saving lives, seconds matter. That’s why the Seattle King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is piloting new evidence-based dispatch instructions for adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The move comes from recent research results from a collaboration with the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP).

With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers set out to improve cardiac arrest survival rates in limited English proficient (LEP) populations. Previous research showed LEP callers to 911 experienced communication difficulties when talking to dispatchers, and are thus less likely to perform CPR.

To change this, researchers revised existing telephone-assisted CPR instructions based on information gathered from focus groups with Chinese and Latino LEP populations. Specifically, they changed the sequence of questions the dispatcher asked the 911 caller, used simplified language, and added confirmation questions. These new dispatch instructions were tested in simulated 911 call experiments with LEP and native English speaking participants to test the instructions before being piloted in call centers.

Seattle King County EMS will begin implementing the new protocol in two large call centers for a nine-month study period beginning in July 2011. An evaluation will compare the impact of the new instructions to those currently used instructions. They hope to see a greater proportion of callers perform CPR and reduce the time to first compression.

If the revised instructions are more effective for both English and LEP callers, they will become the new standard used by all King County emergency dispatch centers. In addition, Seattle King County provides dispatch instructions to EMS call centers throughout the country, so changes to their protocol may result in improvements nationwide.

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