Ensuring the effectiveness of community-wide emergency cardiac care

Lance B. Becker, Paul E. Pepe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


To improve emergency cardiac care (ECC) on the national or international level, we must translate to the rest of our communities the successes found in cities with high survival rates. In recent years, important developments have evolved in our understanding of the treatment and evaluation of cardiac arrest. Some of the most important of these developments include 1) recognition of the chain of survival, which is necessary to achieve high survival rates; 2) widespread acceptance that survival rates must be assessed routinely to ensure continuous quality improvements in the emergency medical services (EMS) system; and 3) development of improved methods for performing survival rate studies that will maximize the effectiveness of information gathering and analysis. While each community should determine how to optimize their own ECC services, some general guidelines are useful. Successful treatment of cardiac arrest starts in the community with prevention and education, including early recognition of the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular ischemia. Obtaining 911 service (and preferably enhanced 911) should be a top priority for all communities. EMS dispatchers should dispatch the unit to the scene in less than one minute, provide critical information to the responders regarding the type of emergency, and offer the caller telephone-assisted CPR instructions. The EMS first-responders should strive to arrive at the patient's side in less than four minutes, be able to immediately defibrillate if necessary, and begin basic CPR. An excellent strategy to accomplish this is to equip and train all fire-fighting units in the operation of automatic external defibrillators and dispatch them as a first-responder team. To manage the cardiac arrest patient, a minimum of two rescuers trained in advanced cardiac life support plus two or more rescuers trained in basic life support are needed. Furthermore, an EMS system is not complete without on-going evaluation. Therefore, the 1992 National Conference on CPR and ECC strongly endorses the position that all ECC systems assess their survival rates through an ongoing quality improvement process and that all members of the chain of providers should be represented in the outcome assessment team. We still have much to discover regarding optimal techniques of CPR, methods for data collection, and optimal structure of an EMS system. Research in these areas will provide the foundation for future changes in EMS systems development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-365
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • ACLS
  • CPR
  • chain of survival
  • defibrillation
  • emergency medical services
  • outcome assessments
  • sudden death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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