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Thank you to David Hiltz for writing and contributing this article to Currents.
A dear friend of the resuscitation community and celebrated advocate-champion, George Murphy, NRP, died on June 17, 2022 at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
George Murphy attended the Northeastern University paramedic program where he later earned his degree and worked for Boston EMS for 33 years from 1978 to 2011, retiring as a Captain in the agency’s division of Research, Training and Quality Improvement.
As a member of the Research, Training, and Quality Improvement (RTQI) team at Boston EMS, George was involved in the training and continuing education of Boston EMS’ EMTs and Paramedics. George was a consummate champion of superior care for the people of Boston and integral part of critical strategies designed to introduce new treatment protocols and technologies with the goal of advancing pre-hospital emergency medical care. In George’s case, the focus was clearly on improving outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest.
George was also widely known for his longstanding role as Santa Claus for the City of Boston. Over the years, George became very close to former Mayor Thomas Menino and his wife Angela, appearing as Santa on hundreds of occasions during Menino’s 20-years in office. Anyone who knew George knew of his passion for being Santa.
George was equally well known for dedicating his life to serving others through EMS. He embodied the Latin phrase non-nobis solem as a devoted prehospital care provider, an EMS instructor, a chief EMS examiner and a tireless advocate for patients. His dedication to others was evident in all that he did.
George was also a founding board member and past president of the National EMS Memorial Service, an organization that aims to remember and honor those emergency medical services personnel who have died in the line-of-duty and to recognize the ultimate sacrifice each made for his fellow man.
He was an avid volunteer and served as AHA BLS National Faculty, the Chair of the Massachusetts Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and on the American Heart Association New England Affiliate Board of Directors. He actively sought out opportunities to raise awareness of cardiac risk factors, promoting community responsibility, and providing education and training for use of CPR and AED‘s not only in Boston but throughout the United States and beyond. He demonstrated commitment, a culture of action and collaborative spirit at all times, which made him an effective leader.
George thrived on being around people, learning, swapping stories and always encouraging others with his infectious laugh and personality. George is and will be deeply missed by all those whose lives he touched both in-person and through his tireless support of CPR, AEDs and Emergency Cardiac Care.
It has been said that “the heart has a language all its own meaning, which mind alone cannot fully comprehend.” George spoke volumes with his heart and gave of himself with his expertise to anyone. He never turned down a request and instead would commit himself to helping. Rest in peace, George.
—Janet M. Spellman, RN, EMT-P
Paramedic Program Director, Northeastern University (Ret.)
George was a cardiac resuscitation champion nationally, regionally and locally. Gregarious, he knew and worked closely with leadership from the American Heart Association and would bring new ideas and innovations in cardiac and stroke care back to Boston EMS for implementation. George led Boston EMS’s community CPR campaign. In 2005 and the few years thereafter, he organized and coordinated CPR training for all of Boston’s 9,000 public school freshmen. I remember a course for “court-involved youth” that George taught. At their graduation ceremony, the keynote speaker told the graduates that often they had been viewed by themselves and others as problems. CPR had given them a chance to be a part of a solution.
—Peter Moyer, MD, MPH
Professor and Chair Emeritus — Boston University Medicine
Medical Director for Boston EMS, Fire and Police (Ret.)
George Murphy was a larger than life teacher, champion and friend. His big Irish laugh and easy smile filled the room. Everyone enjoyed him and his teaching immensely. His work has and will continue to save lives.
—Mark Forgues, MEd., NRP
MIT EMS Technical Director (Ret.)
Clinical Training Center at Boston Medical Center
Although George is no longer with us physically, many of us remain standing on his strong shoulders. Thank you, George. You were an incredible mentor and dear friend. Rest easy — we will carry on with you in our hearts.
—David B. Hiltz
Citizen CPR Foundation
The following scientific update appears in Currents courtesy of author Katie N. Dainty, PhD, MSc.
For a long time, our entire focus around bystander CPR has been about training people to have the hard skills required to do CPR. While training is an important component of how we will increase survival from sudden cardiac arrest, we have largely ignored the psychology of bystanderism and the impact that our call to action has on responders. A recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association titled “Understanding the Importance of the Lay Responder Experience in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest” does an excellent job of reviewing this issue for the first time and makes recommendations about how we incorporate existing research into our practices.
For trained or untrained individuals, performing CPR on a real person is a challenging prospect for anyone exposed to an intense emergency situation. Understanding the ground-level barriers and facilitators to performing CPR may help direct training to improve lay response on a population level.1,2 Studies have shown that the barriers faced by lay responders when confronted with an OHCA are not insignificant and include low self-efficacy, panic, fear of infection or doing the wrong thing, and fear of litigation.3,4,5-8. Those that have responded have shared that while some were driven by a sense of duty to help and felt empowered by saving a life, most struggle with physical and emotional challenges, sleep disturbance, questioning their actions and an overwhelming feeling that their training did not properly prepare them for the real situation.
Early bystander CPR can double a victim’s chance of survival; it is a crucial intervention in our armament against the overwhelming mortality of sudden cardiac arrest. But as such, it behooves us to fully understand how to harness its power and impact. We must turn our attention to understanding how the lived experience of lay responders can help evolve our approaches to communicating about, training for and encouraging bystander CPR and protecting the mental health of those who witness an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.1 Moving knowledge-to-action is the future of the resuscitation movement.
- Dainty KN, Colquitt B, Bhanji F, Hunt EA, Jefkins T, Leary M, Ornato JP, Swor RA, Panchal A. Understanding the Importance of the Lay Responder Experience in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2022 Apr 26;145(17): e852-e867.
- Vaillancourt C, Stiell IG, Wells GA. Understanding and improving low bystander CPR rates: a systematic review of the literature. CJEM. 2008;10:51–65. doi: 10.1017/s1481803500010010
- Sasson C, Haukoos JS, Bond C, Rabe M, Colbert SH, King R, Sayre M, Heisler M. Barriers and facilitators to learning and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation in neighborhoods with low bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation prevalence and high rates of cardiac arrest in Columbus, OH. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2013;6:550–558.4.45
- Dobbie F, MacKintosh AM, Clegg G, Stirzaker R, Bauld L. Attitudes towards bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation: results from a crosssectional general population survey. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0193391.
- Johnston TC, Clark MJ, Dingle GA, FitzGerald G. Factors influencing Queenslanders’ willingness to perform bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Resuscitation. 2003;56:67–75.
- Coons SJ, Guy MC. Performing bystander CPR for sudden cardiac arrest: behavioral intentions among the general adult population in Arizona. Resuscitation. 2009;80:334–340.
- Riegel B, Mosesso VN, Birnbaum A, Bosken L, Evans LM, Feeny D, Holohan J, Jones CD, Peberdy MA, Powell J; PAD Investigators. Stress reactions and perceived difficulties of lay responders to a medical emergency. Resuscitation. 2006;70:98–106.
- Kanstad BK, Nilsen SA, Fredriksen K. CPR knowledge and attitude to performing bystander CPR among secondary school students in Norway. Resuscitation. 2011;82:1053–1059.
In 2017, the U.S. federal government officially designated October as Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month thanks to the efforts of several cardiac arrest-focused non-profits, including the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Each year, more than 350,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest. October is a fitting time to focus on expanding awareness and use of the two tools that can save lives: CPR and AEDs.
Read more about the origins of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, also referred to as Shocktober, from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation >>