SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (December 10, 2020) – In a survey of 337 CPR instructors, researchers at Avive Solutions found widespread concerns about the negative impact that COVID-19 is having on bystander willingness to help victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Notably, 74% of responding instructors expressed either strong (40%) or moderate (34%) concern about bystander inaction in response to OHCA. The most frequently cited concerns were permutations of the following: fear of infection, resistance towards touching strangers, and elevated levels of preexisting bystander reluctance.  

The survey further revealed striking decreases in CPR training volume. Over 73% of the respondents reported a decline in the number of students they have been training since the pandemic began. 52% of those instructors said they have lost more than half of their pre-pandemic students,” shares Anna Harleen, Research Associate at Avive and the report author. Alongside this decline, COVID-19 has prompted 9% of surveyed instructors to stop teaching entirely.  

The study was in the form of a 16-question online survey distributed via social media and email outreach. The researchers received 337 valid responses between 9/10/2020 and 10/9/2020 which were then analyzed to draw insights into the connection between COVID-19 and CPR readiness. 


What do these observations mean for the success of bystander CPR?

Bystander action, involving immediate CPR and defibrillation, is critical for improving historically low OHCA survival rates. Bystander hesitation, mediated by the COVID-19 pandemic, jeopardizes these crucial links in the chain of survival. 

Related data from published research have shown a marked decline in the number of OHCA patients who receive bystander CPR in 2020, compared to pre-pandemic times. In Paris, for example, bystander CPR in 2020 stood at 47.8% compared to 63.9% between 2012 and 2019. Further, OHCA appears to be on the rise. Data from New York show that the incidence of non-traumatic OHCA was 3 times higher in 2020 than during the same period in 2019. There is also a connection between COVID-19 and cardiac arrest, with COVID-19 increasing risk of OHCA due to secondary effects of the virus and treatment. 

The intersection of significantly reduced training volume, bystander inaction, and increasing cardiac arrest prevalence presents a deeply concerning situation for OHCA survival rates. Shannon Miller, Founder and CEO of Single Source Health & Safety, one of the country’s largest AED/CPR training companies, offers insight on how to address these challenges and improve OHCA survival moving forward.  

“The global data showing a dramatic decrease in bystander willingness to perform CPR and use an AED on patients experiencing OHCA during the COVID-19 pandemic is alarming. This trend shows the immediate importance of new innovative methods of CPR/AED education and widespread adoption of AEDs as critical in-home personal medical devices. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted that the status quo in CPR education and OHCA treatment is no longer acceptable and must be addressed immediately by all stakeholders in the chain of survival for OHCA.”

Widespread CPR education, which has been shown to have a motivating effect on bystander willingness to perform CPR even during the pandemic, and widespread AED accessibility are essential as we adapt to training and saving lives from OHCA in this new normal. Additionally, stressing safe bystander action remains critical as we adapt to educate and maintain our CPR-trained bystander citizenry 

The full report can be found at: 

About Avive Solutions, Inc. 

Avive Solutions, Inc. is a San Francisco-based privately-held healthcare technology company developing a next-generation automated external defibrillator alongside a first-of-its-kind platform solution to revolutionize cardiac arrest response to significantly increase survival rates from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. 

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Anna Harleen