BACKGROUND: Researchers at the University of Utah have created a prototype device that could make it possible for anyone -- even those with no emergency training -- to perform life-saving actions for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. The Just-in-Time Support device provides bystanders with guidance and information on how to administer CPR and assess the state and needs of the victim.
HOW IT WORKS: The device consists of a dummy "victim," a pressure-sensing headrest, an anesthesia mask, defibrillator pads, and a video screen and speakers that transmit audio and visual cues to tell the user what to do and give him/her feedback about the actions taken. The cues are based on American Heart Association protocols. Those using the device in a study not only surpassed the control group using no device, but performed to the level of the association's guidelines.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Brain death and permanent death can occur within 4 to 6 minutes after the first symptoms of cardiac arrest appear. About 300,000 people in the United States suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year, and the victim's life often hinges on the help of bystanders. Response time by paramedics after a 911 call us usually more than 6 minutes. The probability of survival decreases 7-10 percent each minute after the incident. Yet studies show that less than 1 percent of bystanders have had CPR training, and of those, fewer than 10 percent retained the knowledge a few months after the training. Using the Just-in-Time Support devices could vastly increase the number of people able to provide emergency life-saving treatment, significantly improving survival changes for sudden cardiac arrest victims.
CPR AND DEFIBRILLATION: Cardiac arrest is the sudden, abrupt loss of heart function resulting from such factors as heart disease, electrocution, drowning, choking and trauma. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combines rescue breathing and chest compressions to keep victims of cardiac arrest alive until medical treatment is available. During cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood; proper CPR supports a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to buy time until the heart begins to function normally again. If the arrest is caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, delivering an electric shock to the heart (defibrillation) can restore the normal rhythm.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.