Dispatcher-assisted CPR saves lives during cardiac arrest

Dispatchers often coach bystanders by phone to help save people's lives, but it's great if they already know CPR. In this file photo, EMS instructor Robert Kelley helps Robert Ford, 31, of Galloway, with hand placement for chest compressions during a CPR class at the Columbus Fire Training Academy on the South Side.

After getting an incident address and callback number, emergency medical dispatchers ask two questions about a person in distress: “are they conscious?” and “are they breathing?”

If the answer to both is no, the person might be in cardiac arrest — and dispatchers advise callers that someone must begin CPR. A person has several minutes before they suffer irreversible organ damage said Lt. Sheldon Combs, a 31-year member of the Columbus Division of Fire and communications liaison. 

“The body starts dying off after a certain point of lack of oxygen,” he said.

‘Thank you for my blessed life’: Heart attack survivor searching for bystander whose CPR helped save her life

That point is at about six minutes, Combs said. Yet it takes an average of eight minutes for emergency medical services to arrive in Columbus.

Read More:Dispatcher-assisted CPR saves lives during cardiac arrest