Workshop showcases new CPR protocols

By Chris Barber cbarber@journalregister.com

PENN -- Emergency medical responders from throughout the county got hands-on training in the new protocols for administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation at a workshop on Saturday at Jennersville Regional Hospital.

'The emphasis used to be ABC -- airway, breathing, compression. Now its CBA,' CEO of Southern Chester County EMS Bob Hotchkiss said.

He explained that CPR originally stressed checking for breathing, clearing the airway and administering breaths into the mouth of a person who was in cardiac arrest before starting chest compressions.

Now, through years of research and studying reports from advanced life support providers, the results have shown that it is best to leave out the breaths and just administer hard, fast chest compressions at about the rate of 100 per minute.

Hotchkiss said the workshop on Saturday was the beginning of an effort to get all of the EMTs, firefighters and police in Chester County trained in the new methods. He hopes to have all of them complete a course by July.

After that, he said he believes the American Heart Association CPR certification courses for the general public will follow in the change by 2015.

Chester County EMS Coordinator Harry Moore taught the course to about 30 advanced and basic life support ambulance personnel.

He brought with him practice dummies that were hooked up to electronic sensors and monitors that showed the participants if they were compressing hard and frequently enough.

He said the important response for cardiac arrest patients is for rescuers to 'prime' the heart (like a pump), so it responds better to the application of an electronic defibrillator. In the process of applying the compressions the patient will inhale air without the delivery of breaths.

'Push hard, push fast and minimize interruptions. It's a culture change,' he said.

He said all ambulances are equipped with oxygen masks as and automatic electronic defibrillators that can be placed on patients following the initial application of compressions. Some advanced life support vehicles, including Southern Chester County Medic 94, have electronic devices that can be strapped on the patient and deliver chest compressions as well, but they are very expensive, he said.

Moore added that Pennsylvania, under the leadership of the state Department of Health -- Bureau of Emergency Services is one of just a few states to start training the new methods.

The day-long workshop, referred to by the leadership as an 'EMS Blitz,' also gave instruction in treating burns, administering emergency care to the Amish and transporting bariatric (overweight) patients in a specially equipped ambulance.

All EMTs (basic life support) and paramedics (advanced life support) are required to get continuing training with EMTS needing 24 hours every three years and paramedics needing 18 hours a year.

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