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Too Many Children Don’t Survive Out-of-hospital Cardiopulmonary Arrest

CHEO’s Emergency Department physician-researchers, led by Dr. Richard Gerein, confirmed last month that although children rarely have cardiopulmonary arrests, if it happens outside of hospital the likelihood of survival is very low. The study also points out that rates of bystander CPR are low. The researchers hope that more awareness and better education in basic life support could save lives.

According to Dr. Gerein, “In the majority of the files we reviewed of out-of-hospital incidents, there was no witness to the child’s arrest. For the third of cases where there was a witness, CPR was done less than a third of the time. With more awareness that children can have cardiopulmonary arrests and that CPR should be started, more children may survive.”

The low survival rate is one of the key reasons the researchers undertook this project in the hopes of developing strategies to improve out-of-hospital resuscitation. Together, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and trauma account for most arrests and have the greatest potential to be prevented. In the cases of respiratory associated diseases, the next largest group likely to have arrest, many were among chronically ill children where better caregiver training in CPR could help.

This study is one of very few in the medical literature that looks at the causes of out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest in children. It is one of the largest studies of its kind and looks at the issue for the province of Ontario. The study included 503 children younger than 18 years of age with out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest during an 11-year period from 1991–2002. The cardiopulmonary arrest was caused by trauma in 37.6% of cases, SIDS in 20.3% and respiratory associated diseases in 11.6%. The information for this study was taken from the Ontario Ambulance Call Report forms and from the dispatch system of the province wide Ambulance Response Information System.

Interested in taking a CPR course? — contact these Ottawa resources:

Ottawa Paramedic Service
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 32434
Email: St. John Ambulance
Tel: 613-722-2002, ext.104
Fax: 613-722-7034

Canadian Red Cross – Ottawa Branch First Aid & Safety Services Department
Tel: 613-560-7220, ext. 249
Fax: 613-567-6987

Securitas Canada Ltd.
Tel: 613-745-7554, ext. 220

SOS Emergency Response Technologies
Tel: 613-744-7909
Fax: 613-9282

Sport Alliance of Ontario
Heather Stephens, Program Coordinator
Tel: 416-426-7314
Fax: 416-426-7353

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