Hollywood ACLS

“Clear” was announced loudly from the TV by an actress playing an enthusiastic doctor from a popular TV show.  Immediately she grabbed two square paddles, one in each hand, and swung around to the limp patient lying on a gurney.  Slapping the paddles onto the patient’s chest, the body instantly rose then dropped in a very dramatic arc.  “Okay, he’s back…”


Excellent fodder for a TV series but hardly realistic – this isn’t how it’s done.  Still, the concept is good and based on Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) protocols.  Victims of a sudden cardiac event will be treated appropriately by trained professionals.  Pre-hospital first responders, such as paramedics and “Life-flight” personnel, as well as trained hospital staff possess skills necessary to provide these advanced resuscitation measures.


The “Code Blue” announced in hospital settings when sudden cardiac or respiratory arrest occurs is actually a very organized process, conducted by trained professionals who follow national protocols.  None of the chaos viewed in Hollywood films is the reality of what occurs during a “Code”.  Well-orchestrated techniques utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and medications are the norm for such events.  Hardly will a doctor be seen swinging a set of charged paddles through the air jeopardizing co-workers in the process…except in the movies.  This is good news for those on the receiving end of ACLS interventions.


Outcomes are supportive of the heroic efforts made by pre-hospital and trained hospital personnel utilizing ACLS protocols in resuscitation interventions.  Fortunately, it isn’t as theatrical as the movies would have you believe.  So, enjoy the hype of the Hollywood film industry when the call to “clear” is shouted from your TV set and know deep down that in reality, you are safe from Hollywood’s version of the “Code Blue”.

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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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