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Poster presented at Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update 2008 (2008, June), Las Vegas, NV


ACLS Students Manage Simulated Ventricular Fibrillation Cardiac Arrests Better Than Non-Ventricular Fibrillation Cardiac Arrests


David L. Rodgers, EdD, NREMT-P1; Barbara R. McKee, RN, MS, CEN2; Rudy D. Pauley, EdD1; David J. Matics, MS, EMT-P, CCEMT-P2; & Louis E. Robinson, MS, NREMT-P, CCEMT-P2

1 Marshall University Graduate School of Education and Professional Development, South Charleston, WV
2 CAMC Health Education and Research Institute, Charleston, WV


Objectives: The AHA Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support course covers 10 core cases including three cardiac arrest cases (Ventricular Fibrillation, Pulseless Electrical Activity, and Asystole). The course agenda places a heavy emphasis on the management of Ventricular Fibrillation (VF) with the standard ACLS provider course agenda specifically dedicating 90 minutes to a VF station while dedicating 60 minutes to a combined station with PEA, asystole, and bradycardia. This study examined the ability of students who completed an ACLS course to manage a simulated cardiac event involving either VF, PEA of asystole.

Methods: 34 senior nursing students participated in ACLS. After completion, each participant served as team leader for a simulated cardiac arrest event that was video recorded. A panel of expert ACLS instructors reviewed each video and independently scored each team leader’s performance.

Results: ACLS student performance for VF cardiac arrest events was significantly better than for non-VF cardiac arrest events, t(32)= -2.930, p = .006). VF event mean was 224.67, SD 31.01, n = 21; non-VF mean was 177.08, SD 63.61, n = 13.


Conclusions: Students who just completed ACLS managed VF cardiac arrest events significantly better than non-VF cardiac arrest events. This may indicate that non-VF cardiac arrest events do not receive the same attention as VF cardiac arrest events in the typical ACLS course. However, considering the low rate of survival for non-VF cardiac arrest events compared to VF cardiac arrest events as reported in databases such as the National Registry of CPR (NRCPR), this trade-off may be justified.