Prototype just-in-time medical device enables untrained bystanders to save lives

SANTA MONICA, CA – Human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) researchers at the University of Utah have created a prototype device that could make it possible for anyone – even those with no emergency medical training – to perform life-saving actions for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. The just-in-time support, or JITS, device provides bystanders with guidance and information on how to administer CPR and assess the state and needs of the victim. The researchers will present their work at the HFES 50th Annual Meeting at the Hilton San Francisco Hotel on Wednesday, October 18. The meeting dates are October 16–20, 2006.

About 300,000 people a year suffer sudden cardiac arrest in the United States. Sometimes the victim's life hinges on the help of bystanders, given that response time by paramedics following a 911 call is usually more than 6 minutes and that the probability of survival decreases 7–10% each minute after the incident. Studies show that less than 1% of bystanders have had CPR training, and of those, fewer than 10% retained the knowledge only a few months after training.

The JITS device prototype used in the study consisted of a dummy "victim," a pressure-sensing headrest, an anesthesia mask, defibrillator pads, and a video screen and speakers that transmit audio and visual cues to tell the user what to do and give him or her feedback about actions taken. The cues were based on American Heart Association protocols.

Half the 40 participants used the JITS device and half did not. Those using the device not only surpassed the no-device group in every measure but performed to the level of the AHA guidelines.

If JITS devices were used, the number of people able to provide life-saving treatment would vastly increase and survival chances for sudden cardiac arrest victims could be significantly improved.

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To obtain a press copy of "Instant Expertise for Novice Responders Performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation" by Paul Picciano and Frank Drews, or a press pass to attend the 50th Annual Meeting, contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (lois@hfes.org, 310/394-1811). The entire meeting program may be viewed at http://www.hfes.org/Web/HFESMeetings/06annualmeeting.html.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in September 2007, is a multidisciplinary professional association of more than 4,500 persons in the United States and throughout the world. Its members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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