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Logo of emermedjEmergency Medical JournalVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Emerg Med J. 2004 May; 21(3): 370–373.
PMCID: PMC1726317

Witnessed arrest, but not delayed bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation improves prehospital cardiac arrest survivial


Methods: This prospective, randomised, double blinded clinical intervention trial enrolled 874 prehospital cardiopulmonary arrest patients encountered in a prehospital urban, suburban, and rural regional emergency medical service (EMS) area. This group underwent conventional advanced cardiac life support intervention followed by empiric early administration of sodium bicarbonate (1 mEq/l), monitoring conventional resuscitation parameters. Survival was measured as presence of vital signs on emergency department (ED) arrival. Data were analysed using χ2 with Pearson correlation and odds ratio where appropriate.

Results: The overall survival rate was 13.9% (110 of 792) of prehospital cardiac arrest patients. The mean (SD) time until provision of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ByCPR) by laymen was 2.08 (2.77) minutes, and basic life support (BLS) by emergency medical technicians was 6.62 (5.73) minutes. There was improved survival noted with witnessed cardiac arrest—a 2.2-fold increase in survival, 18.9% (76 of 402) versus 8.6% (27 of 315) compared with unwitnessed arrests (p<0.001) with a decreased risk ratio of mortality of 0.4534 (95% CI, 0.0857 to 0.1891). The presence of ByCPR occurred in 32% (228 of 716) of patients, but interestingly did not correlate with survival. The survival rate was 18.2% (33 of 181) if ByCPR was performed within two minutes and 12.8% (6 of 47), if performed >two minutes (p = 0.3752).

Conclusions: Survival after prehospital cardiac arrest is more likely when witnessed, but not necessarily when ByCPR was performed by laymen.

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