CPR class

A lifesaving policy known as Telecommunicator CPR (T-CPR) passed recently from the Tennessee Senate, concurring with the House version, and is now heading to the Governor’s desk. Senate Bill 1958, sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, passed with a unanimous vote. Its House companion, House Bill 1933, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cepicky, R- Culleoka, also passed unanimously Feb. 27. Without a single “no” vote during the entire legislative process, the policy is gaining attention and support in Tennessee by both state and local governments this year.

During cardiac arrest – the unexpected loss of heart function – only about 1 in 10 victims survive. Successful resuscitation of victims requires an immediate response to improve their chance of survival. Telecommunicators, including emergency dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators, can be lifesaving coaches when seconds matter.

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, cheered T-CPR’s passage.

“As a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor, I know every second counts when it comes to saving a life,” said Carrie Romero, a member of the American Heart Association’s Tennessee State Advocacy Committee and an AED advocate from Thompson’s Station. “The passing of the T-CPR bill is a huge step toward ensuring that every heart in the state of Tennessee has a fighting chance of survival. I’m so grateful for the efforts of Rep. Cepicky and Sen. Crowe as they led the way to get this bill passed.”

Last month, a new Policy Statement released by the American Heart Association provided guidance and resources to construct and maintain a science-based T-CPR program.

The policy statement explains an effective T-CPR program depends on several important operational commitments by an emergency response system, such as:

  • Providing a high-quality program that includes measurement and performance goals,
  • Providing initial and ongoing education in T-CPR for all telecommunicators,
  • Conducting effective and continuous quality improvement (QI),
  • Integrating QI with an emergency medical services agency,
  • Designating a medical director, and
  • Recognizing outstanding performance.

“CPR needs to be immediately initiated in all cases of cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Aaron Aday, a cardiologist and clinician at Vanderbilt Medical Center. “No one should be left without assistance while trying to rescue their loved one, friend or neighbor from cardiac arrest, and I believe all our emergency dispatchers want to offer this assistance. This is an important step in improving the cardiovascular health of all Tennesseans, and I applaud Sen. Crowe and Rep. Cepicky for their efforts.”

Locally, Tennessee’s Rutherford County is leading the country by the recent signing of an Executive Order by Mayor Bill Ketron requiring T-CPR training for 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers, to help them deliver CPR instructions while quickly dispatching emergency medical services. The County Mayor signed the Order last month, becoming the first community in the United States recognized by the American Heart Association to formally require – versus voluntarily include – T-CPR training for emergency dispatchers.

“With an estimated 350,000 cardiac arrests happening every year, telecommunicators are the true first responders to every 9-1-1 call and a critical link in the chain of survival,” said Kelley Tune, executive director of the Middle Tennessee American Heart Association. “Being able to provide effective T-CPR can mean the difference between life or death. We’re grateful for the overwhelming support from Tennessee lawmakers prioritizing this lifesaving policy.”

To learn more or to get involved, visit YoureTheCure.org.

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