Reporter: Cory Marshall
TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - Airway, breathing and circulation; they're the ABC's of CPR. Well, not anymore -- at least when it comes to sudden cardiac arrest patients.
"The expectation that's still in place across the nation is that there's not a lot of hope that we're going to save a majority of these patients and by adopting new evidence based protocols and procedures. We're changing the culture and changing the mentality," Northwest Fire District Chief of Operations, Brad Bradley said.
After years of research, doctors at the University of Arizona Medical Center alongside the Arizona Department of Health Services developed a new CPR model for heart attack victims.
It's called, "Compression only CPR," and it's exactly what it sounds like. Compression only CPR involves hard and fast chest compressions. The new model does not use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
"All the science and research shows that every time you take a break in those cardiac compressions. You're losing the pressure that you need necessarily to circulate the blood," Bradley said.
Northwest Fire officials implemented the new standard a year ago. Within eight months of switching to the new protocol, survival rates tripled from about ten percent to nearly 40 percent.
Compression-only CPR is more effective because it keeps blood moving to the heart and brain.
Dr. Dan Spaite is a professor at the U of A College of Medicine. He says a benefit of the new protocol is that more bystanders are performing CPR.
"When you relieve them of the necessity of doing mouth-to-mouth on a stranger, it's really remarkable how many more people are willing to do CPR," Spaite told 9OYS.
He says not only are there more survivors, the survivors are also having better outcomes.
"What's wonderful about this is, the survivors aren't going to nursing homes. They're actually normally neurologically intact and able to return to a normal life," Spaite continued.