Maryland’s Charles County is first in the United States to pilot and adopt resuscitation quality improvement programs to advance prehospital response to cardiac arrest.

LA PLATA, Md. – More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States annually, according to the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a time-critical, life-threatening condition that requires peak performance from emergency medical services (EMS) professionals and victims receiving the highest quality CPR possible, known to be the cornerstone for survivalThe Charles County Department of Emergency Services is taking a significant step to improve outcomes, announcing the implementation of two resuscitation quality improvement programs that prepare public safety responders and 9-1-1 specialists in providing high-quality CPR when responding to cardiac arrest events.

Charles County has adopted Resuscitation Quality Improvement® Telecommunicator (RQI-T) and RQI® EMS, two blended learning programs co-developed by the American Heart Association, Laerdal Medical, and the Resuscitation Academy Foundation and delivered by RQI Partners. RQI-T provides continuous, simulation-based mastery learning and practice to 9-1-1 specialists for delivery of high-quality telephone CPR to bystanders. RQI EMS promotes mastery of high-quality CPR through short, frequent skills sessions for EMS providers. Charles County has enrolled 25, 9-1-1 specialists and 120 EMS providers in the respective programs.

“Charles County is committed to increasing cardiac arrest survival and continuously works to identify viable solutions that will improve outcomes,” said Kevin Seaman, M.D., Charles County medical director. “RQI-T and RQI EMS are innovative programs that are changing the landscape of CPR readiness and equipping our teams with the skills, knowledge, and competence to perform high-quality CPR on every cardiac arrest victim, every time. This was an easy decision to shift from traditional two-year compliance to quarterly CPR competency verification.”

Charles County’s Department of Emergency Services is the first in the United States to pilot and adopt both RQI-T and RQI EMS.

“Our involvement in RQI-T and RQI EMS pilot testing offered insight into the benefits the programs provide to our staff and the community-at-large,” said Tony Rose, chief of Charles County 9-1-1 and Communications. “Charles County 9-1-1 specialists and EMS providers must have confidence and competence to perform or provide high-quality CPR instruction when responding to a cardiac arrest call, and these programs give them both. We look forward to sharing our experience and results with other agencies across the state to help transform how we train and prepare for cardiac arrest events.”

Without CPR from a bystander, a cardiac arrest victim has about a 10-minute life expectancy. Research shows that continuous resuscitation training for telecommunicators can lead to a significant increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates and is essential to performing high-quality telephone CPR. RQI-T is delivered through “low-dose, high-frequency” telephone CPR simulation sessions, in 45 minutes every 90 days, and designed to improve telecommunicators’ ability to rapidly identify a cardiac arrest. Additionally, the program helps reduce the time of CPR initiation from minutes to seconds when bystanders receive assistance and instruction from telecommunicators.

RQI EMS follows the same “low-dose, high-frequency” model where Charles County’s emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and firefighters engage in quarterly CPR eLearning modules and skills sessions to verify competence in high-quality CPR.

RQI-T and RQI EMS also capture real-time feedback and analytics, providing individuals and administrators with details on where to improve life-saving medical dispatch and/or CPR performance.

“We are pleased to work with Charles County in delivering RQI-T and RQI EMS to its 9-1-1 specialists and EMS providers, empowering them as critical links in the chain of survival,” said Clive Patrickson, RQI Partners’ chief executive officer. “The combination of education and quality improvement activities positions these professionals to provide high-quality CPR and affords greater opportunities to help save more lives.”

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...