Key advances in critical care in the out-of-hospital setting: The evolving role of laypersons and technology

Paul E. Pepe, Jane G. Wigginton

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


During the past decade, critical care in the out-of-hospital setting has transcended the original emphasis on on-scene advanced life support interventions by doctors, paramedics, and nurses. Many of the life-saving efforts and advances in critical care situations have now begun to focus more and more on how, through evolving technology, the average person can save lives and perhaps even spare precious intensive care unit (ICU) resources. A striking example was the recent study conducted at the Chicago airports at which automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were deployed throughout the airline terminals for use by the public at large. Not only did random bystanders on the concourses save an extremely high percentage of cardiac arrest patients with the AEDs, most patients rapidly awakened, even before the arrival of professional rescuers. Thus, this technology-assisted intervention, performed by an average person, pre-empted the need for many other critical care interventions and prolonged care in the ICU. Equipped with automated prompts to improve performance, new technology also exists to help to monitor the inadequacies and too-frequent interruption of life-saving chest compressions during basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As a result of these technological advances, survival rates for cardiac arrest are now expected to improve significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 9 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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