CPR Made Easy

Low-Cost Manikins: Making CPR Easier with Hands-On Training

Studies have consistently found that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed immediately by a bystander doubles or even triples a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Yet, of the roughly 300,000 people who experience cardiac arrest outside of hospitals each year, only about one-third receive CPR from bystanders while awaiting EMS response.

Arthur Kellermann, MD, PhD
Arthur Kellermann, MD, PhD

To increase the rate of bystander CPR, the American Heart Association recently modified its CPR guidelines so that it is now permissible to provide continual chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. In addition to making CPR easier and less intimidating to perform, this technique might even produce better results during the first minutes following cardiac arrest, according to many experts.

Art Kellermann, MD, PhD, formerly of Emory University, and David Sanborn, PhD, of Georgia Tech, have invented a low-cost CPR manikin to help anyone learn and practice compression-only (also known as "hands-only") CPR, even in the privacy of their own house. "David and I had collaborated on a previous project together, so I knew him to have a very practical bent to design. In this case, our goal from the outset was to create a product that would produce maximal impact for the absolute minimal cost," says Kellermann, now a senior principal researcher and Paul O'Neill-Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at the RAND Corporation in Virginia.

Prototype Manikin

Their work builds on landmark Emory research that demonstrated that laypeople could teach themselves CPR at home using a 25-minute video with results that are comparable to taking a four-hour course taught by a professional instructor. The CPR manikin’s design features a simple torso that focuses the user's attention on correct hand placement. An audible clicker embedded in the center of its chest provides feedback on location and the proper amount of force to use with each compression. By combining the manikin with an instructional video, the researchers hope to produce an extremely simple, low-cost package that every family can use to learn this life-saving technique.

"Broad public utilization of the CPR manikin in homes, schools, offices, etc. will help to save lives," says Hyeon (Sean) Kim, a licensing associate at Emory's Office of Technology Transfer. "The ability of this technology to empower ordinary people to assist others is remarkable."

The American Red Cross, the nation's leading organization for teaching CPR and first aid to the public, has expressed interest in the concept. Following further testing and refinement, the manikin and video kit will be marketed at a price that should make it affordable to everyone.

"The goal of this effort," Kellermann says, "is not to make money. It’s to save lives."

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