Surrounded by supporters, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (seated) signs Assembly Bill 654, mandating dispatcher-assisted CPR, into law on April 16.

On April 16, 2018, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law Assembly Bill 654, which instructs the state’s 9-1-1 dispatchers to provide CPR instructions over the phone. The bill was co-authored by State Senator Jerry Petrowski and State Representative Treig Pronschinske, and it received overwhelming bipartisan support. The new law aims to increase the survival rate of cardiac arrest victims by encouraging immediate bystander CPR until professional responders arrive on the scene.

Keidryn Nimsgern, a survivor from Milwaukee, recounts the moments surrounding her cardiac arrest:

“It was a normal day. My boyfriend, Jake, and I were in the car leaving downtown Madison when suddenly I felt like I was going to pass out. I grabbed Jake’s hand and told him what was happening, and then the world went black. What happened next saved my life.”

Though television and the movies would make it seem as though administration of CPR is the natural response of most bystanders, sadly that is not the case. Bystander-administered CPR rates in Wisconsin currently hover around 19%, even though studies show that when bystander CPR is administered the chances of a victim’s survival double or triple.

“Jake pulled the car over and called 9-1-1. He’d never taken CPR training before, so he was at a loss for what to do. The dispatcher walked him through it, step-by-step. First he laid me flat on the ground, and then she guided him through chest compressions to the beat of the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ He delivered compressions for a full five minutes before police arrived and took over until the ambulance could get me to the hospital.”

For every minute that passes without CPR, a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival drop by 10 percent. Because of this law, all 9-1-1 dispatchers in Wisconsin will now be trained to help callers begin delivery of CPR immediately to a cardiac arrest victim and continue until first responders arrive.

“CPR saved my life. The dispatcher that helped Jake through what to do saved my life. This law means so much because now everyone else will have that same support that Jake and I did. Now, potentially many more lives will be saved and loved ones kept together because of CPR.”

Stakeholders that supported this law include the American College of Cardiology Wisconsin Chapter, American Red Cross, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Project ADAM, Professional Ambulance Association of Wisconsin, Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, Rural Wisconsin Heath Cooperative, SSM Health, Wisconsin APCO, Wisconsin EMS Association and Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association.

To learn more about this issue, please view this PSA series on the American Heart Association’s YouTube page.