Emergency dispatchers may soon be able to help save lives over the phone with the advancement Tuesday of one senator’s life-or-death bill.
Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, said his Senate Bill 264, is a “life-saving opportunity” that would require 911 operators and any other emergency medical dispatchers to receive training to deliver CPR instructions to callers over the phone when necessary.
Carter said his godfather passed out at a facility nearly three years ago, and by the time his godfather was resuscitated, he was alive but brain dead.
SB264 was passed favorably without objection from the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and is on its way to the Senate floor.
“When there are moments of distress, you have a very short time to react,” Carter said. “Often times, those seconds, those minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”
Kristen Simpson said the legislation could have saved the life of her nephew James “Burke” Cobb — a Dutchtown High rising-freshman who collapsed after a sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball in 2012. Simpson said the 911 operator didn’t suggest the use of CPR or an automated external defibrillator, which can assist the attack with electric shocks.
“911 operators really are the first first responders,” Simpson said. “When you pick up the phone and call, they’re the first people you get. They partner with the caller and create a very special team to stand in the gap between life and death.”
According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year, and only 46 percent of people who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get immediate help before a professional arrives.
Simpson has advocated the importance of CPR before. The Legislature passed the The Burke Cobb Act in 2014 in her nephew’s honor, mandating all Louisiana public high school seniors to learn CPR before graduating. Louisiana was the 17th state at the time to enact such a law.
“Without quick intervention in a sudden cardiac arrest, CPR and the use of an AED, death is imminent,” she said. “There is no other option at that point.”
Carter addressed a concern for the difficulty of rural areas having the necessary resources available for the training. He anticipates the state will use a “phase-in” implementation from 2019-21, which would work well to accommodate both large and rural areas of the state.