SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- In a survey of 337 CPR educators, researchers at Avive found widespread concerns about the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on bystander willingness to help victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). 74% of responding instructors expressed either strong (40%) or moderate (34%) concern about bystander inaction in response to OHCA during the pandemic. The most frequently cited concerns were fear of infection, resistance towards touching strangers, and elevated levels of preexisting bystander reluctance.
Instructor Ginger Davis of Heartland CPR shares why learning and performing CPR remains essential:
"Training is still as important as ever. The statistics continue to tell us that cardiac arrest happens most often in the home, even though most people learn CPR because it's a requirement of their job. Could any of us live with ourselves if our spouse or child or parent collapsed in front of us and the difference between life and death was whether or not we knew how to respond decisively?"
The survey further revealed striking decreases in CPR training volume. "Over 73% of the respondents reported a decline in the number of students they've been training since the pandemic began. 52% of those instructors said they've lost more than half of their pre-pandemic students," shares Anna Harleen, a Research Associate at Avive.
What do these observations mean for the success of bystander CPR?
Bystander action, involving immediate CPR and defibrillation, is critical for increasing OHCA survival rates. COVID-19 threatens these crucial links in the chain of survival.
Published data have shown a marked decline in the number of OHCA patients who receive bystander CPR during the pandemic. In Paris, bystander CPR in 2020 stood at 47.8% compared to 63.9% between 2012 and 2019. Further, OHCA appears to be on the rise. Data from New York show that the incidence of non-traumatic OHCA was 3 times higher in 2020 than during the same period in 2019. The intersection of significantly reduced training volume, bystander inaction, and increasing cardiac arrest prevalence presents a deeply concerning situation for OHCA survival rates.
These findings underscore the continued importance of CPR education which has been shown to have a motivating effect on bystander willingness to perform CPR, even during the pandemic. Additionally, stressing safe bystander action remains critical as we adapt to educate and maintain our CPR-trained bystander citizenry.
The full report can be found at: https://avive.life/reports/cpr-training-during-covid-19/