Tennessee has heart for lifesaving Telecommunicator CPR policy

A lifesaving policy known as Telecommunicator CPR (T-CPR) is gaining attention and support in Tennessee by both local and state government. 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.

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 on the heels of Heart 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.

“We are so appreciative of the support of the Rutherford County government and its commitment to practices that save lives,” said Lori Sain Smith, Rutherford County American Heart Association (AHA) board member and vice president of the AHA state advocacy committee. “As rural communities face longer response times during critical health emergencies, this order ensures every life is a priority.”

Effective T-CPR will give emergency medical responders a better chance of success when they arrive on the scene of a cardiac arrest. The policy is also moving through the Tennessee General Assembly in Senate Bill 1958, sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, and House Bill 1933, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cepicky, R- Culleoka.

“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 honored to be part of the first local community in the U.S. recognized by the AHA to require T-CPR training and believe lives will be saved in Rutherford County as a result.”

Last month, a new Policy Statement released by the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, provides 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.

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

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