Can cell phones help save lives?

As the snow falls Thursday, Ronnie Murphy sells umbrellas for a bargain price of $3 near the Market Street subway on 15th Street. (Sarah Schu / Staff Photographer)

Researchers from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania studied whether instructions delivered via cell phone would improve the quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.

The researchers randomly assigned 160 participants into four groups – two made up of individuals trained in CPR and two of untrained people. Prerecorded CPR instructions were provided to one group of those trained in CPR and to one  untrained group.

All the participants attempted CPR on a mannequin for three minutes. The researchers concluded that those who had cell phone instructions performed CPR better than those who did not have that assistance. They also found that there was no difference in the quality of the procedure between those who had been trained and those who were untrained – as long as they had the cell phone instructions.

“A simple audio program that can be made available for cell telephones increases the quality of bystander CPR in a mannequin simulation,” concluded the researchers in the study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.