Animal CPR – STAT !

Animal CPR – STAT !

Have you ever seen a TV show where someone collapses and grabs at their chest?
“Cardiac arrest” is the call and people spring to action.

Someone yells “STAT” and people rush forward beginning mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions (albeit ineffectively for the screen). After approximately 30 sec, the person coughs, sits up and says “what happened?”

As inaccurate and unbelievable as that portrayal is, the public knowledge of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is forever growing. Red Cross and St John Ambulance run CPR courses for community and workplaces alike.

There is a well-known fallacy that television portrays a false sense of belief in the effectiveness of CPR in people. Television often portrays a 100% survival whereas in real life, we often see survival of less than 5-10% of patients

Just as our human counterparts, veterinary staff are called on to provide CPR to animals from time to time. As an ER doctor, I have performed more CPR efforts in each year of the last 12 years than I did in the 15 years in total as a GP veterinarian prior to moving into the world of emergency and critical care.

In veterinary medicine, CPR efforts would often be haphazard, unstructured and just as unsuccessful.  We knew we could do better. Training in community and frontline pre-hospital providers in the human arena have doubled the survival of CPR in countries that invest in these programs.

In 2014, a group of dedicated specialists in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, from around the globe, sat down and developed the RECOVER project. RECOVER stands for Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation.

This was a comprehensive review of all the data relating to veterinary CPR. And this effort, led by Dr Manuel Boller, now at Melbourne University, and Dr Daniel Fletcher, has produced the first set of guidelines for veterinary CPR.

These guidelines now provide a framework for structured and evidence-based delivery of CPR efforts. As part of that program, we are aiming to raise the success of veterinary CPR above 10%.

The team here at Animal Referral and Emergency Centre often are challenged by critically ill or traumatised animals that require CPR, and we continue to look for ways to improve the outcomes for our patients.