- Every second counts when it comes to saving a life. But in rural parts of Wisconsin, it can take paramedics up to 30 minutes to respond to an emergency.
A new bill in Wisconsin would require dispatchers to know how to explain verbally CPR over the phone.
When Sherri Congleton answers a 911, call she is often thrown into a life or death situation.
"You kind of form a bond with the person on the other side of the phone when you answer a call like that," said Congleton.
It is Congleton's job to tell the person on the phone what to do until first responders arrive, which often involves talking them through how to preform CPR.
"Of course, they want the best outcome, we want the best outcome. And you just start doing what you need to do, flipping through the book," said Congleton.
If Governor Walker signs the bill, all 911 operators will be required to know how to give CPR instructions over the phone before an ambulance arrives.
Oneida County Dispatch has been doing this for more than a decade.
"Sometimes we know it helps because somebody will say 'oh my gosh they've started breathing again'," said Congleton.
Scott Hefter has been a paramedic for 10 years. He said the sooner CPR can be given, the better.
"Every minute that CPR is withheld, survival rates drop 10%," said Hefter, who works for the Rhinelander Fire Department.
Hefter said the policy is specifically important in rural areas where it can take longer to get to an emergency.
"It can be 20, 30 minutes before we arrive to somebody's house. If CPR can be started by family members until first responders arrive, it helps everybody greatly," said Hefter.
Congleton doesn't always get to see the outcome after the paramedics arrive but she knows until they get there she is a caller's life line.
"If we can just be that calm voice on the other end of the line telling people how to do it, to keep that oxygenated blood pumping to the vital organs, that's going to increase someone's chance of survival and that's what we want," said Congleton.
The bill has passed the Senate and Assembly and will likely be signed by Governor Walker soon.
|Story By: Fitzgerald, Maggie