Urban vs. Rural CPR Preparedness: Bridging the Gap


Knoxville advocates the importance of knowing how to perform CPR because it is considered an essential life skill. Still, there is a visible gap in CPR preparedness between urban and rural areas because healthcare facilities are more accessible in cities than in rural locations.

Rural places face many challenges when it comes to healthcare services, as CPR training facilities are not as common as in urban areas. As a result, locals in these areas may not be given CPR on time before emergency help comes.

While researching what rural programs have been developed to assist these communities, let’s explore the differences between urban and rural areas in terms of CPR accessibility and knowledge.

Urban vs. Rural CPR Preparedness

Performing CPR quickly increases survival rates, especially in urban areas where CPR knowledge is more widespread and emergency response is faster. On the other hand, victims of cardiac arrest in rural areas may receive a slower response or not be helped at all, resulting in lower survival rates.

Let’s go over the factors that contribute to the differences in CPR preparedness in urban and rural areas:

Demographic – Population Density

Population density is one of the major factors behind differences in CPR preparedness. Due to the larger population in urban regions, there are more opportunities for CPR training and awareness campaigns.

On the other hand, Knoxville’s rural areas lack resources and healthcare centers. This makes it difficult for locals to get the proper training.

Statistics show that about 15% of all Americans live in rural communities, where health disparities are evident.

Access to Healthcare

Access to healthcare is necessary to bridge the CPR preparedness gap between urban and rural areas. Finding hospitals or healthcare providers that give training is easier in urban places.

On the other hand, geographical obstacles make it a challenge for rural communities to get the emergency medical care they require when it’s needed. It’s not uncommon for people from such places to travel to more populated areas for emergency treatment.

CPR Education and Awareness

Education and awareness are essential when it comes to CPR preparedness. While television, radio, and social media platforms provide greater exposure to information campaigns in urban places, rural communities in Knoxville may not receive the same amount of outreach due to insufficient resources.

We must spread awareness about how crucial it is to learn fundamental life-saving skills like hands-only CPR. That can be done only by providing easily available training programs for every community in Knoxville.

Urban vs. Rural CPR Challenges in Knoxville

When it comes to being CPR-ready, rural areas need help. The lack of fast access to medical facilities and limited resources can substantially impact the ability to respond appropriately in emergencies.

Let’s go through the CPR challenges in rural Knoxville areas:

Limited Number of Trained Responders Available

The lack of skilled people who can offer quick assistance during cardiac emergencies is a significant obstacle. There might not be enough trained CPR volunteers or healthcare professionals in rural locations. This can only result in poor outcomes for the person who needs CPR assistance.

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has listed 20 census tracts in Knox County as “medically underserved areas” (MUAs).

Rural Hospital Closure

Regarding healthcare availability, the fact that there are closed hospitals in rural areas is another challenge locals face. To determine what leads to these closures and how they affect rural areas, the THCC has formed a partnership with local officials and organizations.

One of the reasons is that the population in rural regions has decreased, leading to a shortage of medical personnel, police, and fire departments, among others. Since 2005, 196 rural hospitals have been closed across the US.

Mortality increases in places where a hospital closes and locals are forced to travel to distant locations to seek medical care.

Longer Emergency Response

Due to longer travel distances, rural regions may face longer response times from emergency services. Since it takes longer for EMS to reach remote places, the time frame for immediate CPR is delayed. Because every minute counts in a cardiac arrest event, this delay may significantly affect the patient’s survival rate.

On the other hand, in urban areas, the average response time of the Knoxville Fire Department is less than 4 minutes. When CPR is required, the Knoxville Fire Department is the first to respond 85% of the time.

In 2022, the Fire Department responded to 12,736 requests for emergency medical services. Firefighters are also assigned to other divisions within the department so they can assist in CPR training and public education.

The Accessibility of AEDs Is Limited

During cardiac arrests, AEDs are crucial for restoring a heart rhythm. Compared to urban locations, rural communities might have less access to these devices. Many rural areas find it challenging to have AEDs available in public spaces or community centers due to the cost of purchasing and maintaining them.

Having access to an AED and being familiar with how to use one is essential. According to statistics, in the US, first responders typically arrive in urban areas within 7 minutes of a 911 call. However, they take twice as long to reach rural areas, sometimes even longer.

The odds of survival decrease by about 10% for every minute that passes without AED usage.

Government Policy Interventions for CPR Preparedness

The HHS has dedicated $11 million to increase medical residencies in rural areas. This program aims to make training facilities accessible for locals in these areas.

Instead of residents leaving, they can stay in their hometowns and contribute to their communities. Locals can finish medical school and be employed as nurses, doctors, and firefighters within their community.

Health Resources & Services Administration Programs

The HRSA is dedicated to working on better health access for rural locations. The benefit of this program is an increase of qualified doctors trained to handle the work conditions in rural areas. HRSA has also funded the RRPD – TAC.

The purpose of The Rural Residency Planning and Development – Technical Assistance Center is to establish more graduate medical education programs in rural America. In 2019, the HRSA dedicated nearly $20 million to this program, which helped fund 27 organizations to boost the rural workforce. You can see what steps are included in this program agenda.

Rural Emergency Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is also working towards better healthcare access. At the beginning of this year, 200 of 1,000 Medicare-funded physician residency slots were awarded to improve healthcare conditions in underserved communities, as selected by the Health Professional Shortage Areas.

The CMS has suggested that rural emergency hospitals be used as healthcare training centers. This is a great way for locations with a shortage of medical staff to ensure that there is always a certified person who can provide CPR assistance. If you’d like to know why REHs were created and which facility can enlist, more information is available here.

Types of Rural Emergency Hospitals

CAHs and FSEDs are two facilities that can be modified as rural emergency hospitals. Critical Access Hospitals were designed to reduce the cost of rural hospitals and enhance access to healthcare. There are 1,361 CAHs in total operating in the US as of April 2023. Free-standing emergency departments are required to be open 24/7, and many states have established license requirements for better operation.

Urban vs. Rural CPR Preparedness: Bridging the Gap – Final Thoughts

Improving access to training centers for basic CPR knowledge in Knoxville can help in closing the gap between urban and rural areas. Government officials have created policies and programs in order to help the communities most affected by poor healthcare access.

You also can contribute by participating in training to become CPR-certified and make a difference as a bystander in emergency situations.

Only increased awareness, active efforts, and grants can make a positive change in CPR statistics.