Australian first responder programmes: a review of the literature

Early access to defibrillation for cardiac arrest patients is highlighted in the seminal paper describing the ‘chain of survival’ concept. The objective of the study was to identify Australian first responder programmes and report their effect on survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Methods: a literature search was conducted using medical electronic databases Medline and EMBASE, with the databases searched from their beginning until the end of May 2011. References from retrieved articles were reviewed. Articles were included if they reported on Australian first responder programmes and their outcomes, including survival to discharge from hospital. Articles were excluded if they were not written in English or were hospital-based. Results: there were 674 articles located by the search with seven articles meeting the inclusion criteria. Two articles were subsequently excluded, as they did not report survival outcomes. The survival rates from cardiac arrest ranged from 4% with the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board first responder programme to 71% with St John Ambulance Australia at large public events. Conclusion: the results of this study suggest the survival from OHCA attended by first responders in Australia is, in some studies, comparable with international studies.

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