More patients die when ambulances single-crewed - study

  • 01/09/2017
More patients die when ambulances single-crewed - study
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Analysis of cardiac arrest cases supports doing away with single-crewed ambulances in New Zealand, researchers say.

The AUT University and St John study looked at survival differences in sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) cases where the first locating ambulance had one crew member or had two.

It found that patients had lower survival to hospital discharge when the ambulance was single-crewed.

"Although further investigation into relationships is required, the number of crew in the first locating ambulance impacts OHCA survival rates," the authors said.

"This research supports the elimination of single-crewed ambulances in New Zealand."

The study, published in the NZ Medical Journal, analysed data from the St John cardiac arrest registry from October 2013 to June 2015.

It involved 2347 cases, of which 337 were attended by a one-person ambulance.

The results showed that patients were less likely to survive to hospital discharge where there was a single crew (12 percent) as opposed to two (17 percent).

Because they were looking at the data retrospectively, the authors say they can't determine the cause of the lower survival rates.

However, they suggest a single responder may not be able to start CPR as quickly or as well as a two-person crew splitting the workload.