Indiana 911 dispatchers must get CPR training under new law

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — All Indiana emergency dispatchers will have a year to complete training in telephone CPR under a new law taking effect Monday.

Officials say at least 10% of the nearly 2,400 people working in 911 call centers around the state lack such training.

“We recognized that minutes are being wasted when people could be helping their loved ones,” Danielle Patterson, government relations director of the American Heart Association Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star.

Jeff Schemmer, the executive director of Hamilton County Public Safety Communications, said he considers the training to be especially vital for rural areas, where emergency crews face longer trips to arrive.

“If we can get CPR started immediately, it increases the chances of survivability for an individual suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest,” he said.

Schemmer added that his team is already skilled in telephone CPR and has been for at least 10 years.

“We have to have 24 hours a year to keep up our certification,” Schemmer explained. “So, there’s a lot of classes we have to continually go through whenever they update protocol.”

Ed Reuter, executive director of the Statewide 9-1-1 Board, said many staff members may know hands-on CPR, but this is different.

“It’s one thing to perform CPR with your hands on,” he said. “It’s also important to know how to describe that and take control of a scene that they can’t even see.”

Michael Clark, who works in emergency medical dispatch for the city of Lawrence, said dispatchers have a set of cards they can read from on such calls, though they often veer off the script to calm down callers.

“I try to establish a quick rapport, get their first name, be repetitive, say their name over and over again, tell them they’re doing a good job, try to help get them outside of the excitement of the situation and focus on the task at hand,” he said.

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