CUMBERLAND – A new law meant to improve over-the-phone CPR instructions and introduced by House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman, a Democrat serving District 45, Cumberland, Lincoln),and Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, of District 1, Providence, was signed by Gov. Dan McKee during a ceremony in Cumberland on Tuesday. The bill requires the 911 system to certify and staff individuals trained in telecommunicator CPR.
The legislation establishes an emergency telephone system call review and quality improvement, requiring all 911 system operators to be trained in telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“911 operators are the real first responders and can make the difference between life and death,” said Ackerman in a statement. “When CPR starts before the arrival of an emergency medical technician, the person in cardiac arrest is two-to-three times more likely to survive. T-CPR can help untrained callers provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It can also remind those who are trained how to provide high-quality CPR.”
The bill, passed by the General Assembly June 22, was ceremonially signed into law by McKee in a ceremony Tuesday at the Cumberland Public Safety Complex.
The legislation comes in the wake of incidents where bystanders were unable to perform CPR due to a lack of instructions from 911 dispatch. In 2018, Rena Fleury, a 45-year-old woman, died after she went into cardiac arrest at a Cumberland High School football game. The 911 call takers failed to recognize that Fleury was having a cardiac arrest, and they failed to provide CPR instructions over the phone.
“Implementing a policy where operators trained in T-CPR are always on duty could save countless lives,” said Representative Ackerman. “Emergency telecommunicators are a vital link in the lifesaving chain, and this legislation will help to ensure that CPR is being performed before emergency medical personnel arrive.”