Bystander CPR rates - Why are they so low? -

Before we get into the entire mesh of facts and figures – we should first understand the importance of bystander CPR – and then get onto the real reason behind the low survival rate within the arena of bystander CPR.

As per studies, 80% of cardiac arrest situations or medical conditions seeking immediate CPR action, occurs not within the premises of a healthcare facility, such as a hospital. The emergency scenes take place at home or within residential quarters. Thus, the immediate response comes from a family member or a bystander – who has to perform CPR and first aid to make the victim revive or save some time, till advanced medical assistance arrives.

Out of hospital cardiac arrests and survival rates of the same is relatively low in comparison to those being tackled at hospitals and facilities – whopping 8% throughout USA. In Detroit the rate of survival is 0%. These sad figures should not cloud your mind about the healthcare system of the country, which is known to have the best of EMS system in the whole wide world. Paramedics and EMTs perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims. In spite of this, survival rate is low in the country – solely because – most cases occur at home that are tended or not tended by bystanders.

So, what is the cause of such low survival rates?

As mentioned above, 80% cardiac arrests and similar emergencies occur out of hospital premises (mostly home) – unless and until a medic or a member of EMT stays at your place –and performing CPR within 2 minutes time frame is highly vital. Early CPR is rather a strong factor of survival. But in America, only 15%-30% bystanders do CPR. The time a victim collapse and the time between performing CPR is crucial. This time gap of 1 or 2 minutes is the time, till oxygen gets exhausted in the brain of the victim, which might cause brain hemorrhage. Without wasting a second, a bystander needs to compress the chest of the victim for circulating blood and enabling it to flow to the heart and brain. However, less than 20% perform CPR – whether a known person or a stranger. This is why, the survival rate has hit rock bottom!

Bystander CPR – Why few perform it?

There are 3 main reasons why less number of bystanders performs CPR –

  1. Lack of confidence or knowledge.
  2. The fear and apprehension of doing something wrong or worse, causing fatal injuries to the victim of cardiac arrest and getting sued in the process by the person or family members of the same.
  3. Giving chest compression is okay for most bystanders, but many simply don’t or are reluctant to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to complete strangers.

There are other reasons too – like people who had attended CPR classes or training programs had failed in their respective examinations or fail to take into the training and information. As a result, they think twice before attempting to give CPR to a patient, even if he/she is known to the person.

Improving bystander CPR survival rates

Awareness can help increase the rates. If people understood the whole impact of CPR and it is capable of saving a life, they will be more open to learning different methods of CPR and taking up classes for the same. Studies have shown that bystanders are more inclined to perform CPR, if under proper guidance by an emergency dispatcher (it can be through the phone too). Bystander CPR rates can be improved by encouraging and motivating people to undergo CPR training programs.

Compressions-only CPR or hands-only CPR

Studies and research have shown that hands-only CPR brings out effective results than other CPR techniques. Hands-only CPR is about compressing a victim’s chest in a hard and fast motion with both hands of the concerning rescuer, with the absence of mouth-to-mouth respiration. There is no need to give mouth-to-mouth ventilation because oxygen is present in the blood and lungs already. What the victim needs is circulation of oxygen to the heart and brain. Hands-only CPR helps in circulating the oxygen to all vital organs.

This technique of CPR will also encourage more and more bystanders to attempt giving CPR to cardiac arrest victims. This is because there isn’t any obligation of giving mouth-to-mouth respiration. Furthermore, hands-only CPR is easy to learn and execute. It also has boosts survival rate. As per American Heart Association, this technique of CPR is ideal for adults who have suffered a witnessed collapse because of cardiac arrest.

Chances of survival for a victim fall dramatically within few minutes and without the presence of CPR. A bystander have to start early CPR within those few minutes’ duration and immediately call for professional assistance or wait for the arrival of AED.

At the end of the day, we can conclude by saying that thousands of lives in the US only can be saved if each and every one residing in this country learn CPR implementation and get trained in handling medical emergencies. The best thing is that classes are available both online and offline. You can participate as per your time convenience and place. Spending a few hours, will surely help save a life!