Spreading the Word Around the World: Surviving Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Starts at the Scene

November 16, 2016

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of fatality and long-term disability worldwide. Recent advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), many of which have been pioneered at the University of Arizona, have dramatically improved survival rates around the world.

The Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center (AEMRC) has successfully implemented several strategies that have dramatically increased cardiac arrest survival in the United States, including improving the quality of CPR training and the rate of bystander CPR. Now AEMRC is sharing these strategies with emergency medical leaders in countries like China and India through its innovative International Visiting Scholar Program.

CPR training and bystander CPR rates have been extremely low in China and cardiac arrest survival is extraordinarily rare. David Wu, MD, an emergency medicine physician from China, recently spent six months at AEMRC – Phoenix as part of the International Visiting Scholar Program. He learned not only the latest CPR techniques, but also how to implement innovative, life-saving systems of care for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest patients.

Dr. Wu returned to China to spread the word about what he learned at AEMRC and save lives.

“Dr. Ben Bobrow and I found that most Chinese medical professionals were unable to perform high-quality CPR. So when I returned to Foshan City in China, we first focused on training medical professionals who were more likely to treat cardiac arrest patients in the community hospitals.”

As the director of the Foshan CPR training video program, Dr. Wu produced a series of CPR training videos in Chinese, as well as adding Chinese subtitles to Arizona CPR training videos. These were shown to EMS medical directors in South China and medical professionals at local hospitals.

Not long after Dr. Wu implemented his program, a passerby caught on video a bystander performing CPR on a man collapsed on a busy street in China, suffering from a cardiac arrest. The bystander, who happened to be a nurse and a participant in one of Dr. Wu’s CPR training courses, knew to continue chest compressions until emergency medical personnel arrived.

The man, Wen-man Fu, was brought to a cardiac arrest center established by Dr. Wu, where he was treated. “After five days of intensive care, Mr. Fu opened his eyes and was able to talk and move both hands and legs without any disability. After 15 days of in-hospital treatment, Mr. Fu recovered completely and was discharged,” Dr. Wu said.

The video made headline news in the Chinese media and later went viral after another save of a cardiac arrest patient by Dr. Wu and his team. In media interviews, Dr. Wu said, “I’m honored to tell them we are copying the Arizona model of saving cardiac arrest patients.”

AEMRC – Phoenix and the Save Hearts in Arizona Registry and Education (SHARE) Program in the Bureau of EMS & Trauma System at the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) offer an International Visiting Scholars program that hosts emergency medicine clinicians and researchers from around the world. This successful international exchange has resulted in numerous research and practice collaborations and publications as well as improved survival rates.