A relatively new form of CPR is given the thumbs up by the American Heart Association .
It's easier to do and easier to remember. That's according to Lori Wirth, with the City of Madison Fire Department , which has incorporated this life-saving technique into its paramedic-EMT protocols since February.
"The really important point about CCR, which is Cardiocerebral Resuscitation, is not only are patients being resuscitated at the scene, but they are being resuscitated, taken to the hospital and going home neurologically intact. And that's huge because that has not always happened."
Rock and Walworth Counties were the first places in Wisconsin to implement this procedure. Since its introduction in early 2004, Michael Kellum , Mercy-Walworth Hospital and Medical Center director, says survival rates have tripled. He says the program has been implemented by physicians who are medical directors for EMS squads.
"We're implementing it for the very specific reason that we have credible scientific evidence that indicates that improvements in survival are possible if we change the way that people in the field deliver care."
Unlike traditional CPR, CCR (Cardiocerebral Resuscitation) does not involve mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. Instead, continuous chest compressions are used to keep the heart beating and to move stored oxygen in the blood to the brain of sudden cardiac arrest victims. As a bonus, Wirth says, it also removes the "yuck" factor.
"In this day and age where, you know, we are aware of so many communicable diseases, a lot of people — rightly so — are hesitant to kneel down and put their mouth to a stranger's mouth."
Wirth says this new method is simpler and easier to learn. She says it's hard for people in a panic situation to remember the number of compressions to the number of breaths ratio as required in regular CPR. Wirth says Department medical director Dr. Darren Bean has already trained the mayor, is currently training American Red Cross staff, and will soon be training city council members. Wirth and Kellum stress, this is an adult protocol. For pediatrics the procedure will be different. Also, CCR won't work for near drownings or electrocutions.