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Translating Research into Practice Saves a Life

A few weeks after NWCPHP researchers worked with Casa Latina to see if their CPR instructions were understandable to people who speak English as a second language, one of the workers used the lessons to learned to administer CPR in an emergency.

A few weeks after NWCPHP researchers worked with Casa Latina to test CPR instructions with people native Spanish speakers, one of the workers used the lessons learned to administer CPR in an emergency.

October 14, 2011

NWCPHP research coordinators Devora Chavez and Brooke Ike hoped that testing newly-drafted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) dispatch instructions with community partners like Casa Latina, a day labor center for Latino immigrants in Seattle, would help save lives. Little did they know, one of their participants would soon use these skills to save someone's life.

A few weeks after Chavez and Ike worked with Casa Latina to see if their CPR instructions were understandable to people who speak English as a second language, a man collapsed on Casa Latina's floor. While Casa Latina staff called 911, one of the workers at the center rushed to the man's side. Steadily, confidently, he began to administer CPR.

It was a life-saving moment that had begun months earlier. Research showed that limited English proficiency (LEP) callers to 911 have trouble talking with and understanding dispatchers, making them less likely to perform CPR. Based on this data, NWCPHP developed a pilot research project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to develop new dispatch instructions for adult CPR. The NWCPHP research team revised existing telephone-assisted CPR instructions based on information gathered from focus groups with Chinese and Latino LEP populations, and then tested the new instructions with the same community partners.

"It has been difficult to find Spanish-language CPR resources," said Emily Gaggia, Education Coordinator at Casa Latina. "There was great interest in having NWCPHP come and work with the Latino community." Gaggia further explained that many in the Latino immigrant community fear using governmental agencies—including emergency medical services (EMS). She said it could be due to enhanced immigration enforcement often carried out in unexpected places.

"Having Devora and Brooke's warm faces there representing 911 helps people realize it's not scary, and that 911 is a safe number to call," she remarked.

This 911 research has resulted in new CPR instructions being implemented in two large call centers in King County, Washington for a nine-month trial period. If everything goes well during this test period, Seattle King County EMS will officially adopt the new instructions for performing CPR.

"Thanks to having practiced just a couple weeks earlier, one of our workers was able to administer CPR, and he saved a life," said Gaggia. The man who collapsed was in stable condition when EMS workers took him in for treatment.

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