ABC News 8: MedStar in Fort Worth adopts new CPR technique

MedStar in Fort Worth adopts new CPR technique

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Posted on July 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 13 at 12:21 PM

You've heard it before: learn CPR because it saves lives.

But now a local emergency service is convinced that the way you learn it in a class may do more harm than good.

Now they're making some changes.

One day last month, a desperate woman in Tarrant County, called 911. MedStar answered the phone. Her boyfriend was having a heart attack.

If this had happened a year ago, the dispatcher would have told her to blow air into his mouth twice, and keep doing that between compressions.

But late last year, MedStar reviewed national data showing patients who received that CPR method, were only one percent more likely to survive than patients who didn't get it at all.

"The problem with that is when we're off the chest for too long, we're not circulating the blood," said Marisa Hansen, a MedStar paramedic.

All that air can also cause vomiting, which can get pushed into the patient's lungs.

"The vomit is very acidic, and acid in the lungs is not a very good combination," said MedStar advanced paramedic, Jimmy Aycox.

Fort Worth-based MedStar adopted a new way of doing things.

911 dispatchers tell frantic callers to concentrate only on continuous chest compressions.

Paramedics also began using a device that makes sure the compressions are exactly right and when the patient is revived, cold saline is pumped in the body to keep him or her stable until he or she reaches the hospital.

Today, MedStar's revival rate for cardiac cases is nearly 19 percent, triple what it was in 2008.