UF Health Jacksonville

UF Health Jacksonville’s Hands-Only CPR Initiative Trains Thousands and Saves Lives After Cardiac Arrest

Jacksonville, FL

Not-for-Profit Academic Medical Center

695 Beds

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a well-known approach for saving lives. However, recent studies have shown that traditional CPR, which includes compression and mouth-to-mouth breathing, is not as effective as it could be. In the First Coast region, approximately 1,000 heart attacks occur per year, most at home. Only five percent of victims (50 people) survive those events; yet, other communities have survival rates as high as 20 percent. Leaders, physicians and employees at UF Health Jacksonville are working to bring that same success to the First Coast

Take Heart First Coast is a hands-only CPR initiative using a training and educational approach from volunteer physicians, nurses and other trained medical professionals. The new approach recognizes that even trained providers are reluctant to do CPR because of the requirement for rescue breathing – it can be difficult to do and can interrupt the critical chest compressions in CPR, leading to poor circulation and worse outcomes. While less than half of bystanders are willing to do mouth-to-mouth breathing, more than eight in ten are willing to do compression-only CPR.

The educational approach implements the American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR training, which only takes two minutes. Studies have shown that bystander CPR is the single most important treatment that leads to survival. In the vast majority of cases, no mouth-to-mouth is needed, only CPR. If chest compressions are started as soon as possible after collapse, the chances of survival increase. Without bystander CPR, the outlook is dismal – every minute from cardiac arrest without CPR leads to a 10 percent decrease in chances of survival.

At UF Health Jacksonville, emergency room physicians, hospital leaders and hospital employees have taken this seriously. They have seen first-hand that patient outcomes are better if the patient comes to the emergency room after receiving CPR on the scene. A grassroots training effort was launched as a partnership with the hospital’s emergency department, emergency medicine and the USF Health Nursing Department. It began with the hospital’s sponsorship of the Gate River Run in 2012, the largest 15K national championship race for road runners. After two years of race sponsorships, the Take Heart First Coast has trained 600 people.

But training hasn’t stopped with the River Run. Hospital employees and physicians are volunteering their own time to train ushers in churches, train middle and high school students, and train community members through unconventional locales, such as the local Wal-Mart. Because of the simplicity of the training, the program quickly adopted the “train the trainer” model, allowing individuals to gain experience and then train others. The approach resulted in 5,000 trained people at the University of North Florida campus. A similar approach has resulted in thousands more trained teachers and students at local middle and high schools. In total, more than 16,000 area residents have been trained in hands-only CPR to date.

The project has become a passion of UF physicians, nurses and employees, who volunteer their time to ensure the program reaches as many people as possible. The hospital’s emergency medicine residents are also involved, taking it on as a research project. The message is simple: “Take two minutes to learn how to save a life, a runner, a family member, a co-worker or a perfect stranger. ‘Call 911, then push hard and fast’ until rescue arrives. Take two minutes to learn and practice a skill to keep for your lifetime or someone else’s.”

The goal of Take Heart First Coast is to increase the region’s cardiac arrest survival rate from five percent to 20 percent. According to national data, this is a realistic goal. While only 25 percent of bystanders in the region currently perform CPR before EMS arrives, other areas have successfully transitioned bystander assistance to nearly 70 percent through hands-only CPR training. By adopting this approach in Jacksonville, UF Health at Jacksonville will save between 100-200 lives every year in the community.