Early identification of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) has been proven to increase survival rates. Toward this goal, emergency medical dispatchers commonly use one of two types of emergency medical dispatcher systems, each with a unique OHCA protocol. The criteria-based dispatch (CBD) protocol is a set of guidelines and prompts intended for dispatchers with clinical background and experience, while the medical priority dispatch (MPD) is a scripted caller interrogation protocol intended for non-healthcare dispatchers. The objective of this study was to compare CBD and MPD protocols in terms of accuracy and duration of the identification process.
To compare the two protocols we conducted an OHCA simulation of an emergency phone call by a bystander. Two groups participated in the simulation: 1) emergency medical technicians during paramedic vocational training, in the role of CBD dispatchers, and 2) non-healthcare personnel in the role of MPD dispatchers. Dispatchers were asked to identify whether a patient was having a cardiac arrest based on the information they received from the bystander.
Duration of the OHCA identification process was significantly shorter for participants using MPD (CBD 50 seconds vs. MPD 33 seconds, p=0.003). The OHCA accuracy was 86.49% for the CBD and 82.86% for MPD, but this difference was not statistically significant (p=0.60).
The advantages of each protocol suggest that some combination of the two protocols may optimise the OHCA identification process, leading to increased accuracy and shorter duration of the identification process.
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