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Using Simulation to Train for Cardiac Arrest

NWCPHP researchers are launching a research study to learn if simulation training can assist 911 call receivers in determining if CPR should be administered during a 911 call.
Using Simulation to Train for Cardiac Arrest

King County Criteria-Based Dispatch Guidelines

NWCPHP researchers are launching a research study to learn if simulation training can assist 911 call receivers in determining if CPR should be administered during a 911 call.

June 25, 2013

Call receivers at 911 call centers may handle calls from people experiencing fires, crimes, or medical emergencies. Some of the most urgent calls are from people assisting those who are in cardiac arrest. To increase the chance of survival for the cardiac arrest victim, call receivers must quickly identify that a cardiac arrest is happening and then assist the caller with providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) over the phone.

NWCPHP researchers are launching a research study to learn if simulation training can assist call receivers in determining if CPR should be administered during a 911 call. The University of Washington Standardized Patient Program is collaborating with the project. Two experienced role-players from this program are acting as callers for the simulation calls.

The project is currently training the role-players in the nine different scripts they will use in the training calls. The role-players need to not only say their lines effectively but be prepared to improvise according to call receiver responses.

In the simulation phase of the project, call receivers will sign up to receive a training call. Scott Stangenes, Project Coordinator, will connect the role-player, the call receiver, and himself. The simulated 911 call will then take place. Once it is done, the role-player will drop off the call, and Stangenes will give the call receiver feedback about his or her performance handling the call.  All of these training calls will be recorded for later review. Researchers will look for protocol adherence (asking if the patient is conscious and breathing normally) and length of time taken to initiate CPR.

Some may wonder why simulation training might be useful, since it seems straightforward to follow a relatively simple interview protocol to determine if a cardiac arrest is taking place. One reason is that some call receivers may only handle one or two cardiac arrest calls per month. Consequently, it may be challenging for these call receivers to keep the potential for cardiac arrest top-of-mind.

The emotional nature of these calls is also difficult. The caller is often a friend or family member who is justifiably upset and anxious about the health of someone he or she cares about. Stangenes says that callers under duress can give ambiguous and even misleading answers to questions about consciousness and breathing. Because the opportunity to assist someone in cardiac arrest is so brief, any improvement in the time it takes call receivers to help callers initiate CPR could make a real difference.

Audio of a three-minute simulated 911 call

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