CPR over the phone: Proposed legislation would require teleCPR training for dispatchers

SHERIDAN — A bill sponsored by the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affair Committee would require telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation — or teleCPR — training for Wyoming dispatchers. 

If passed, the new training regimen would have to be approved by Wyoming’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission by 2023, POST officials said at a meeting Thursday. 

TeleCPR is the process of conveying instructions for how to administer CPR over the phone, POST Director Chris Walsh explained to the commission. 

TeleCPR training would allow dispatchers to assess an individual’s breathing status, determine whether they need CPR and direct a caller to start administering CPR, all over the phone and often before emergency medical services arrive on scene, Walsh said. 

The bill would add language to Wyoming’s Title 9, which governs the administration of government and state officers, including dispatchers. In particular, the bill would add a statutory requirement that dispatchers be appropriately trained in teleCPR training, current guidelines on emergency cardiovascular care and relaying appropriate CPR instructions to callers. 

The fiscal note associated with the bill estimates the training will cost approximately $23,500 each fiscal year, which will be appropriated from the state’s highway fund. The approximation is based on an estimate of 47 dispatchers in Wyoming and a training cost of $500 per employee. 

Who will receive the training and the exact type of teleCPR training administered to Wyoming dispatchers, however, would be mandated and approved by the POST Commission. 

“If this bill were to go through…then it would fall on the POST commission to designate those positions that would require teleCPR,” Walsh said. 

Wyoming’s POST Commission is composed of Attorney General Bridget Hill, law enforcement officials and members of the public, said Sheridan County Sheriff and POST Commissioner Allen Thompson. According to statute, the POST Commission is empowered to determine training standards for all sorts of public officials, from correctional officers to coroners to dispatchers.

The commission’s goal, Thompson explained, is to buoy public trust in law enforcement and other officers of the state by standardizing training and improving law enforcement professionalism, which Thompson defines as law enforcement officers doing what they ought to do, rather than what they have the right to do. 

“Professionalism in law enforcement is all we have at the end of the day,” Thompson said. 

During the commission’s meeting Thursday, commission members considered adopting a teleCPR training program similar to one in use in Kentucky. The Kentucky law, which went into effect in July 2018, requires dispatchers to be trained in teleCPR, recognition protocols for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, and compression-only CPR for callers based on nationally recognized guidelines. The law also requires continuing education for dispatchers. 

Walsh said Kentucky dispatchers are currently trained using a one-hour online training course, which could serve as a model for training in Wyoming. He advised the POST Commission to prepare in case the bill becomes law during the Legislature’s budget session next month. 

“My best recommendation would probably be to firm up exactly what [the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council] is putting on through that one hour course…” Walsh said. 

If passed, the bill would require the POST Commission to determine and implement its chosen teleCPR training regimen by Jan. 1, 2023.