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Bill aims to ensure 911 dispatchers can give CPR instructions or transfer to someone who can

Last October, Ashley Goette called 911 after discovering her husband was having difficulty breathing.

She received instructions over the phone on how to perform CPR on Andrew until first responders arrived, possibly saving his life.

Immediate CPR by a bystander can triple a heart attack victim’s survival, Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing) told the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Division Thursday.

She sponsors HF1520 that, by July 1, 2021, would establish training for 911 dispatchers to either provide direction on performing CPR or to transfer emergency calls to a public safety answering point with employees capable of providing such direction.

The division approved the bill, as amended, and sent it the House Ways and Means Committee. Its companion, SF1638, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hall (R-Burnsville), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

Many, but not all, emergency call centers in the state have 911 dispatchers able to provide CPR instructions over the phone, Sandstede said. A yet-to-be-determined amount of money from the General Fund would be provided in the 2020-21 biennium to allow counties to train emergency center staff so such over-the-phone instructions are available statewide.

“Death is almost certain” without quick CPR and defibrillation for a person experiencing a heart attack outside of a hospital setting, said Lorna Schmidt, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “This makes the actions of bystanders critical, especially when you consider that EMS response times can exceed 10 minutes in many parts of the state.”

Goette said it took nearly 10 minutes for first responders to arrive at their home in West Saint Paul. “In those minutes, having someone tell me what to do, how to help my husband, was everything to me,” she said. “The doctors told me Andrew wouldn’t have survived without it.”

The bill would protect 911 dispatchers from legal liability if a caller refuses or is unwilling to perform CPR.


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