CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings in relation to COVID-19

The United Kingdom has been blessed to have so many first responders within the community willing to give up their time to volunteer, train and help the NHS in responding to medical emergencies in particular Cardiac Arrests.

In today’s circumstances, carrying out this role may be futile to their own health if certain precautions aren’t adhered to.

Resuscitation Council UK Guidelines 2015 state “If you are untrained or unable to do rescue breaths, give chest compression-only CPR (i.e. continuous compressions at a rate of at least 100–120 min-1)”.  

Due to the recent pandemic: COVID-19, the possibility that a victim of a cardiac arrest having this virus is heightened and therefore threatens the personal health of our frontline responders. 

The Resuscitation Council UK offer the following advice:   

  • Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives. 
  • Make sure an ambulance is on its way. If COVID 19 is suspected, tell them when you call 999. 
  • If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victim’s mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care team) arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast.
  • Early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of infection. 
  • If the rescuer has access to personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g. FFP3 face mask, disposable gloves, eye protection), these should be worn.  
  • After performing compression-only CPR, all rescuers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water; alcohol-based hand gel is a convenient alternative. They should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service or medical adviser. 

Paediatric resuscitation

Most Paediatric Cardiac Arrests are caused through respiratory problems and not cardiac problems and therefore ventilations and assisted breathing becomes vital to their chances of survival

The most important thing is to ensure help is on the way for the child so ensuring an ambulance is called cannot be stressed enough.

If a child is not breathing normally and no assistance is given that child’s heart will stop and go into a full cardiac arrest. 

The Resuscitation Council UK has stated that if in doubt to carry out the following actions:

“It is likely that the child/infant having an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will be known to you. We accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child/infant. However, this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and the death of the child.”

In today’s stressful times it can be a lot of information to take in. Try to stay calm and not panic and if in doubt call or shout for help.

Below you can find further reading in relation to other areas of the UK.

Stay safe.

Further reading: 

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