First Responders Told To Stop Trying To Save Patients Who Don't Have Pulse
New York, NY – The New York State Health Department has urged first responders not to make any attempts to revive people who don’t have a pulse when they arrive at the scene.
The recommendation, which was issued on April 16, stunned emergency workers who have been struggling to help patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Post reported.
Paramedics had previously been instructed to devote up to 20 minutes to attempting to revive citizens who have gone into cardiac arrest.
“Now you don’t get 20 minutes of CPR if you have no rhythm,” one veteran New York Fire Department paramedic explained, referring to patients who no don’t have a heartbeat when emergency personnel arrive at the scene.
“They simply let you die,” he told the New York Post.
The paramedic estimated that maybe three or four percent of patients who have no pulse are brought back to life through the use of CPR and other aggressive intervention efforts.
“[But] for those 3 or 4 people, it’s a big deal,” he stressed.
In a memo outlining the proposed change, the state Health Department said the do-not-resuscitate directive is “necessary during the COVID-19 response to protect the health and safety of EMS providers by limiting their exposure, conserve resources, and ensure optimal use of equipment to save the greatest number of lives,’’ according to the New York Post.
Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors FDNY, was outraged by the state’s recommendation.
“They’re not giving people a second chance to live anymore,’’ Barzilay told the New York Post. “Our job is to bring patients back to life. This guideline takes that away from us.”
According to the state Health Department, similar do-not-resuscitate directives have been in place “in many areas of the U.S. as well as other locations throughout the world” since well before the pandemic.
“These changes are based on standards widely agreed upon by the physician leaders of EMS Regional Medical Control Systems across NYS and the Medical Standards Committee of the State Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council,” a health department spokesperson insisted in a statement to the New York Post.
Within a day of the state Health Department’s directive, the FDNY issued a letter to its emergency services workers instructing them to continue making efforts to revive patients even if they don’t have a heartbeat, the New York Post reported.
“The NYC 911 system will continue to maintain a higher level of care,” the letter read.
Earlier in April, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (REMSCO), the state-designated coordinating entity for the region, issued a directive barring paramedics from transporting patients to emergency rooms for cardiac arrest if they were unable to save the person in the field, WNBC reported.
Under normal circumstances, paramedics transport heart attack patients to emergency rooms even if there is no blood flow in the patient.
Medics would usually perform CPR and other lifesaving measures in the back of the ambulance while transporting the heart attack victim, WNBC reported.
Under the REMSCO directive, emergency medical personnel were still instructed to spend up to 20 minutes reviving cardiac arrest patients.
If those efforts failed, they were to be left at the scene with New York police in most cases.
“No adult non-traumatic or blunt traumatic cardiac arrest is to be transported to a hospital with manual or mechanical compression in progress without either return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) or a direct order from a medical control physician unless there is imminent physical danger to the EMS provider on the scene,” the directive read.
“In the event a resuscitation is terminated, and the body is in public view, the body can be left in the custody of the NYPD,” REMSCO instructed emergency medical responders.
Medics were also given an “NYPD DOA Removal” telephone number to use if New York Police Department (NYPD) officers are delayed in responding to the scene, the New York Post reported.
As of Wednesday, 251,690 New York residents had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 17,671 have died, according to Bing's COVID-19 Tracker.