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Volume versus outcome: More emergency medical services personnel on-scene and increased survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest


Background and aim

The large regional variation in survival after treatment of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is incompletely explained. Communities respond to OHCA with differing number of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who respond to the scene. The effect of different numbers of EMS personnel on-scene upon outcomes is unclear. We sought to evaluate the association between number of EMS personnel on-scene and survival after OHCA.


We performed a retrospective review of prospectively collected data on 16,122 EMS-treated OHCA events from December 1, 2005 to May 31, 2007 from a combined population over 21 million people residing in an area of over 33,000 square miles in Canada and the United States. Number of EMS personnel on-scene was defined as the number of EMS personnel who responded to the scene of OHCA within 15 min after 9-1-1 call receipt and prior to patient death or transport away from the scene. Associations with survival to hospital discharge were assessed by using generalized estimating equations to construct multivariable logistic regression models.


Compared to a reference number of EMS personnel on-scene of 5 or 6, 7 or 8 EMS personnel on-scene was associated with a higher rate of survival to hospital discharge, adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.35 (95% CI: 1.05, 1.73). There was no significant difference in survival between 5 or 6 personnel on-scene versus fewer.


More EMS personnel on-scene within 15 min of 9-1-1 call was associated with improved survival of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. It is unlikely that this finding was mediated solely by earlier CPR or earlier defibrillation.

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