PORT ANGELES – The local police and fire dispatchers are being heralded for work helping administer CPR to those who call 911.

Peninsula Communications, or PenCom, implemented Resuscitation Quality Improvement® Telecommunicator in August last year. The program prepares telecommunicators to deliver high-quality telephone CPR.

This week, the agency was recognized by RQI Partners and the Resuscitation Academy Foundation as a “Resuscitation Trailblazer.”

PenCom manager Karl Hatton says the award signifies PenCom’s commitment to furthering resuscitation education, improving telephone CPR practices, and ultimately, increasing cardiac arrest survival.

“At best case scenario, it could be five minutes and at worst case scenario could be 10, 12, 15 minutes before the first actual EMT or trained responder shows up and in that time period between you know, you calling 911 because you recognize there’s a critical emergency and professional help actually being at your door. We’re the first responders, and we provide  that information in those instructions to keep that person viable.”

Hatton says in the past 12 months, the center has achieved an 18% decrease in its “time to recognize” out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and a 16% decrease in the time it took bystanders to provide the first telecommunicator-directed CPR chest compression.

“The gold standard is to answer that call and then to get an address, a verifiable real address, in 60 seconds or less. Right now, we’re averaging for these types of calls about 22 seconds. The goal is to in less than 120  seconds from when we answer the call to recognize this is actually a CPR call. We’re doing that in 74 seconds on average and that’s an 18 percent decrease in time from when we started this program. We also seen about a 16%  improvement between answering the phone and providing that first compression. We’re hitting our averages about a 160 seconds often times.”

PenCom has 12 telecommunicators enrolled in the training program, that provides continuous, simulation-based learning, practice and analytics of actual calls delivered locally.

Also this week, the Port Angeles City Council issued a proclamation elevating PenCom’s telecommunicators to First Responders, becoming the first in the state to initiate that step.