New CPR technique could save lives - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New CPR technique could save lives

Posted: Updated:

SPOKANE, WA - Every second counts when it comes to cardiac arrest, and tonight, Spokane Valley firefighters are taking advantage of each moment thanks to a new approach to CPR.

Reunions between firefighters and the people they saved are happening more and more. Spokane Valley firefighters saved 15-year-old Chase Burright in July of 2016 when his heart stopped working.

"They were just relentless in doing what they were doing, they didn't want to give up on me, they didn't know me at all but they wouldn't give up," Burright said.

There's a chance Chase survived not just because of CPR, but because of the team effort used to implement it. 

Pit crew CPR - an approach that requires all hands on deck.

"It is a great feeling when somebody leaves and they're alive, you know you saved 'em," said Division Chief Rich Llewellyn.

Captain Dan Ward says during the days of traditional CPR - when one person did it all - cardiac arrest calls were the most stressful.

 "It's a true life-and-death situation, but along with that stress you've got people showing up and helping," said Captain Dan Ward with the department. "But as a paramedic, you had to mange everybody."

"We would do all the stuff we're doing now, but it really wasn't as effective or delivered in as efficient a manner."

Now, each team member has a roll: one to do compressions, another to ventilate, and another to medicate. The person doing the physically demanding work of compressions rotates out every two minutes.

The pit crew approach allows for more steady, consistent compressions of about 100 compressions a minute, which means more people are surviving!

Spokane Valley Fire says that in 2013 and 2014, the CPR save rate was at 25 percent. After implementing pit crew CPR, in 2015 and 2016 the survival rate more than doubled to 54 percent.

"When we arrived they were dead, and by the time we left they were alive and talking to us."

"It's really been a remarkable change in the way we deliver the service to the citizens."

So why isn't every department using the approach? It saw its first published clinical trial only a few years ago showing an almost 60 percent improvement in patient survival.

After that, word spread like wildfire, from department to department.

A Spokane Valley Captain learned about the technique from the Redmond Fire Department.

"This is the firefighters bringing this back to the valley to improve the service we deliver. This didn't come from the top down, this started from the bottom up."

With so many communities seeing the improvement and spreading the word, it's safe to say hundreds, if not thousands, of lives - including Burright's - have been saved.