The Pit Crew

When a cardiac arrest occurs there’s a good chance that you’ll see multiple ambulance crews attend.  To the uninitiated this may seem a waste of resources or mis-management of them at best, but nothing could be further from the truth.

A patient in cardiac arrest is the ultimate race against time, from the moment they go down you literally have minutes to save them, and in as little as 180 seconds they will probably acquire a brain injury.

So why the multiple crews?

The simple answer is that CPR is exhausting and saving a life on the street is a complicated and challenging task, but most importantly using the pit crew approach improves a patients chance of survival.

Inspired by Formula One racing, the pit crew concept is designed to bring increased efficiency and structure to the way the ambulance crews treat patients in cardiac arrest.

Each member of the team knows exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

Key aspects of the pit crew concept include:

  • Ensuring there is 360º access to the patient (this may involve physically moving the patient a short distance);
  • Calm and concise communication at all times;
  • Use of a cardiac arrest checklist;
  • Identifying a team leader to manage the cardiac arrest team;
  • Members of the team adopting predefined positions around the patient in order to deliver different elements of resuscitation efficiently and effectively.

London Ambulance Service simulate a cardiac arrest situation using the pit crew method…

And two US training videos…