General public needs more resuscitation training

6th July 2015

An organisation that gives health advice to the world says that more resuscitation training is key to saving the lives of people who have a cardiac arrest outside hospital.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) says that if bystanders were trained in CPR, survival from cardiac arrest could dramatically improve.


The general public needs to be educated about how to recognise a cardiac arrest, which can occasionally occur in people with cardiomyopathy, and respond.

Dr Robert Graham, chair of the IOM committee which wrote the report, said that bystander CPR and automatic external defibrillator (AED) training could save many lives. But in America only one in 20 people who had a cardiac arrest outside hospital survived, and each year less than three per cent of the population received CPR training.

The IOM report found that eight out of 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occured in the home, and just under half (46%) were witnessed by another person.

Decreasing the time between cardiac arrest onset and the first chest compression was critical to improving cardiac arrest outcomes.

The IOM committee identified seven strategies for improving cardiac arrest survival and improving the quality of life of patients who do survive. They included:

  • Establishing a national cardiac arrest registry to monitor responses, identify problems, and track progress
  • Educating and training the public on the recognition and response to cardiac arrest, with an emphasis on expanding CPR and AED training in schools
  • Enhancing emergency services performance, with an emphasis on increasing dispatcher-assisted CPR when emergency calls are made
  • Developing strategies to improve systems of care in hospitals
  • Adopting continuous quality improvement programmes for cardiac arrest to promote accountability, encourage training, and encourage performance comparisons in hospitals
  • Expanding research in cardiac arrest resuscitation and promoting innovative technologies and treatments
  • Creating a national cardiac arrest collaborative "to unify the field and identify common goals"

The IOM is a division of America’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and gives independent, objective advice on issues that affect people's lives worldwide.