In parts of Louisiana with limited access to immediate medical care, waiting for EMS during even a few extra minutes after cardiac arrest can mean the difference between life and death. 

Most cardiac arrest events that occur in out-of-hospital environments result in a call for help to 911. Without quick intervention, death is almost certain. A review of data collected by the East Baton Rouge Parish Bureau of Emergency Medical Services in 2017 revealed that pre-hospital providers arrive 16:39 from the time a 911 call is initiated. That is 16:39 of potential life-saving treatment that can be delivered by a bystander or an anxious family member until the pre-hospital provider arrives. 

The more we can do to assist citizens in those first critical minutes until EMS arrives, the more lives we can save. 

When seconds matter, having a CPR “coach” on the other end of the phone line can help eliminate disparities in survival, so every victim of cardiac arrest in Louisiana gets the immediate help he or she needs to survive. 

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Tricia Otis of the American Heart Association teaches CPR to Savanna Owens, 17, at Slidell High School in Slidell, La., Friday September 29, 2017.

Legislation to require 911 operators learn CPR instruction goes to full Senate

Louisiana lawmakers are considering a policy known as “Telephone CPR” — in Senate Bill 264 by Sen. Troy Carter — that would require 911 operators to be trained to offer high-quality CPR instructions over the phone. Within a few seconds, a bystander can be helping the victim. The “how-to” script exists in the public domain — these instructions assist the untrained caller, and remind the trained caller, how to effectively provide the intervention. 

I hope lawmakers will consider T-CPR closely. It can quite literally be a lifeline during acute conditions when it is a race against the clock. 

Coletta Barrett

vice-president of mission, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center

Baton Rouge