Almost 90 percent of people believe they can get instructions on how to perform CPR when they call 911, but the reality is, only between 50 and 60 percent of dispatchers are trained to give those instructions.

The American Heart Association is backing bills in both the Minnesota House and Senate to require that dispatchers be trained to provide CPR instructions, or be able to quickly transfer callers to someone who can.

Justin Bell with the American Heart Association said over-the-phone instruction is vital, even if the caller already knows what they’re doing, because of, “The reassurance on the phone of the dispatcher to say, ‘It’s OK if you hear cracking. It’s OK if you break a rib. You need to push hard enough to make sure to move the blood.’ We’ve had people say that without that reassurance, they don’t know that they would have kept doing it.”

The legislation has already been drafted for next year. Bell said if it passes, getting the training should be relatively simple. “The places in Minnesota that are already doing that, I think they’ll probably follow that lead, or they’ll be pointed to some of the of the other newer, nationally-recognized training programs,” he explained.

According to the American Heart Association, about 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital every year, and in almost every case, someone calls 911. Getting CPR assistance in the five to 10 minutes between that call and the arrival of an ambulance, could mean life or death.