Recognition of life extinct and the processes of death

A paramedic has the responsibility to confirm deaths within the community in which they work and there are distinct protocols to follow. They also have the responsibility to decide whether or not to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation on expected and unexpected deaths. The recognition of life extinct (ROLE) protocol included in the Joint Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee Guidelines (2006) provides guidance on when, and when not, to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on patients but does not cover the processes occurring after death. Death is a process which occurs in stages and within certain time constraints, depending on intrinsic and extrinsic factors. This article covers the processes of death and the timelines in which they occur and aims to improve the paramedic's knowledge and ability to make sound judgements and assist with providing justifications of confirming death alongside the ROLE protocol to relatives, the police and the coroner.

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