Actual Dispatcher Calls

actual calls

Want to learn more about this statement in action? Test yourself! Try to find what worked well and what needed improvement in the calls below. These CPR audio files are provided as examples for education and training. Dispatch centers should review and maintain their own audio files for training purposes.


Not Ideal (audio opens in new window)
  • The dispatcher delays the start of chest compressions with numerous “non-urgent” questions.  
  • The dispatcher should ask, "Is the victim breathing normally?" 
  • Instead of "Do you want to start CPR?" an assertive phrase such as, "We need to start CPR; I will help you” is recommended.

Good CPR Instructions (audio opens in new window)

The dispatcher: 

  • Recognizes the cardiac arrest very early in the call and is assertive in the instructions.  
  • Instructs the caller to immediately get the victim out of the car and onto a firm surface to initiate compressions.   
  • Instructs the caller to perform chest compressions only and uses an assertive tone. 
  • Recognizes agonal breathing and immediately instructs the caller to continue CPR. It is important to remember that sometimes cardiac arrest victims gasp during CPR, and when that occurs, CPR should be continued.

Good Coaching Example (audio opens in new window)

The dispatcher: 
  • Is assertive but calms the very excited caller.  
  • Coaches the caller to initiate and continue chest compressions and even makes sure the chest compression rate is at least 100 compressions per minute by having the caller count out loud.  
  • Repeatedly tells the caller, "faster, faster."  
  • Has the caller continue chest compressions until trained rescuers arrive.

Clear Cardiac Arrest Recognition (audio opens in new window)
  • The victim is not breathing normally, as evident by the agonal breathing heard on the recording. 
  • The dispatcher quickly recognizes a cardiac arrest and instructs the bystander on how to start chest compressions. 
  • As she does this, the bystander notes that the victim begins to breathe again.  Then she stops, and the victim stops breathing completely. Cardiac arrest victims commonly have some movements that can be mistaken for seizure activity.
  • When receiving chest compressions, victims often gasp. When this occurs, unless the victim becomes responsive and has normal breathing, CPR should be continued.