Purpose of the study: According to The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), the key words used by callers that are associated with cardiac arrest constitute a knowledge gap.1 Identifying spontaneous trigger words at the beginning of an emergency call may reduce time to dispatch Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and to initiate bystander resuscitation.
Materials and methods: In this descriptive study conducted in a Finnish district, linguistic contents of 81 emergency calls of suspected, non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrests were analysed. Spontaneous trigger words used by callers were transcribed. A univariate model was developed to assess the association between the trigger words and confirmed cardiac arrests.
Results: Fifty-one (63%) of suspected cardiac arrests were confirmed as true cardiac arrests when EMS met the patient. A total of 294 spontaneous trigger words were analysed, 100 in the true cardiac arrest group and 94 in the non-cardiac arrest group. “is not breathing” n=9 (12%) in the true cardiac arrest group vs n=1 (3%) in the non-cardiac arrest group (odds ratio [OR] 6.21, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75–51.7), “is wheezing/is making choking sounds” (n=17 [33%] vs n=5 [17%], OR 2.50, 95% CI 0.81–7.68), “the patient is blue” (n=9 [17%] vs n=1 [3%], OR 6.21, 95% CI 0.75–51.7) and “collapsed/fell” (n=12 [23%] vs n=3 [10%], OR 2.77, 95% CI 0.71–10.8) were more frequently used to describe a true cardiac arrest. “Is snoring” was associated with a false suspicion of cardiac arrest (n=1 [2%] vs n=6 [21%], OR 0.080, 95% CI 0.009–0.70).
Conclusions: We developed a novel method to identify trigger words used by callers. Although no trigger word was found to be associated with true cardiac arrests, we observed heterogeneous, surprisingly various descriptions of agonal breathing in Finnish language.