Bacon: Saving lives over the phone

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, February 15, 2019 3:11 pm

Each year, nearly 350,000 incidents of cardiac arrest occur outside of a hospital. While almost all of these events result in a 911 call, there are additional actions that can be taken by bystanders to prolong survival until an ambulance arrives. Legislation I authored would require 911 emergency dispatchers to complete training on giving hands-only CPR instructions over the phone.

By completing this training, dispatchers could better coach callers on how to accurately perform hands-only CPR. If bystanders are able to provide consistent chest compressions in the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive, it can help keep the heart alive and give those suffering from cardiac arrest a greater chance of survival. When CPR begins prior to the arrival of emergency medical services, the likelihood of survival is between two and three times higher than without intervention.

While many 911 centers already implement this training, we could ensure all dispatchers are ready to coach callers through CPR. This would help provide instruction to those who have never been trained in CPR and even refresh those who have been trained. 

I once experienced an incident where an individual at a dance suddenly went into cardiac arrest. During the 11 minutes before the ambulance arrived, a nurse and I alternated performing chest compressions. Upon arrival, the EMT informed us that the consistent CPR was what kept the man alive. Every second counts in these scenarios, and knowing how to give CPR can be the difference between life and death. Requiring all dispatchers to receive training on how to coach bystanders through these situations could help a victim survive until an ambulance arrives.

When an individual begins experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, time is of the essence. Calling 911 is a bystander’s first reaction, and performing hands-only CPR by telephone instruction can be live-saving.

To learn more about CPR training, or if you are interested in becoming certified, visit As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback on this legislation as it moves through the process. Contact me with any input or questions at or 317-232-9643.


State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75, 
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

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