CPR bill lingers with session scheduled to end

CPR bill lingers with session scheduled to end

BOSTON — While the state legislature may extend the session, it is drawing to a close Friday and one piece of legislation could have a major impact on those who suffer heart attacks and other heart issues. Senate bill S.1313 seeks to have dispatchers trained to provide instructions over the phone to bystanders who are with heart patients following a sudden cardiac arrest.

“Our 911 dispatchers are excellent the problem is they have a five minute handicap that we need to do something about,” said Dr. Joseph Sabato, an Emergency Medicine doctor with UMass Memorial.

Dr. Sabato says there is often a delay of 5-7 minutes before heart patients are given CPR because once 911 is called from a cell phone, most callers are connected to the Massachusetts State Police who ask a series of five questions before transferring the calls to local police and fire dispatchers who ask another five questions, and then transfer the call to an emergency medical dispatcher who will also ask five questions.

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“Only 30 percent of time do cardiac arrest victims get CPR before EMS gets there,” Sabato said.

“Every minute that goes by without your heart pumping, the chance of survival goes down 10%,” Sabato added.

Rebecca Scott of Wellesley said she was playing tennis at a club with her teenage daughter when she suffered a heart problem that turned out to be cardiac arrest.

“I was a really lucky person because there was very little delay from when my heart stopped and when CPR began.” Scott said.

The staff at the tennis club was trained to care for her, and had a defibrillator on-site. They wound up using it on Scott, six times.

Not long before the incident, Scott said she learned she had inherited traits that made her more likely to have cardiac arrhythmia, or unusual heartbeats.

“If I had been home with my daughter or another relative that wasn’t trained, they would have called 911 first and then they would have waited for instructions.”

Senate bill S.1313 is currently in the Ways and Means Committee. Its sponsor is Democrat Michael Moore of Millbury. A spokesman for Moore said here have been positive conversations about the legislation with senate leaders.

Their hope is that it passes before the session ends.

Gov. Baker’s office tells Boston 25 News they will carefully review any legislation that reaches his desk, but did not offer comment on the bill.

A spokesperson for Boston EMS said its dispatchers are certified EMTs or paramedics and when they receive calls, they are able to give CPR instructions over the phone.