As a first aid trainer I have been staying up to date with new guidance through our trusted source the Resuscitation Council UK. The Resuscitation Council guidance on giving CPR during Covid 19 is difficult to interpret. Here I’ve tried to help you understand it. Please follow this link to read the guidance and watch the video.
Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings
This statement is for anyone who is performing CPR/defibrillation in an out-of-hospital setting.
The following 3 points stand out to me:
1: “Normally, this risk is very small and is set against the inevitability that a person in cardiac arrest will die if no assistance is given.”
This statement refers to how guidance must be given based on the real risk to the casualty and the rescuer in normal times. In normal times risk is extremely low and so it is recommended that if the rescuer is trained and willing, they should give breaths. During Covid many first aiders must be asking is it even safe to get close enough to a person to perform CPR. Well, there is a risk – no one can deny that. Sadly, I am not going to tell you what the rules ARE. You have to make your own decision. Weigh the actual risk of picking up the virus from this casualty against the actual risk that they may die. It’s not an easy decision!
2: “Those laypeople and first responders with a duty of care (workplace first-aiders, sports coaches etc.) that may include CPR should be guided by their employer’s advice”.
This statement is tricky. My boss should tell me how to give CPR…? He probably doesn’t know how to! So, what it means is an employer SHOULD HAVE carried out a COVID 19 risk assessment which included the giving of first aid (who’s got that in their risk assessment huh?). Remember – a risk assessment isn’t a piece of paper in a filing cabinet. It’s a working document subject to change. Get it out of the filing cabinet and speak to your employer now. Don’t wait till decision time…
Ask; what’s the likelihood of a casualty in your care having COVID 19 or you having it? How best can you mitigate the risks?
You work in a care home, then it’s high risk so be extremely careful. Wear PPE and give NO breaths, cover the casualty’s mouth and nose.
You work in a small office well away from the public and with no contact with the virus that you are aware of…it’s probably safe…weigh this against the risk the casualty might die without CPR and the value of breaths during CPR.
Could you pass on Covid 19 to the casualty? – they are going to die if they don’t get CPR, what’s your best option?
Consider protecting yourself: Are you at heightened risk if you contract the virus? If so, can someone else give CPR? If you have to then wear PPE and don’t give breaths, cover their mouth and nose.
3: “If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victims mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR”.
The guidance suggests we move away from the way we were trained. We should do compressions but not attempt breaths. Watch the video (follow the link at the top of the page) and learn how to give CPR to someone during Covid 19. Note the narrator says: ‘In particular if the collapsed person has had Flu like symptoms’. If you think there is NO risk then CPR with breaths is still the more effective approach. It’s not an easy decision. I would recommend thinking about what you would do now rather than leaving it until you have to decide. Its worth pointing out here that a child needing CPR will definitely benefit from breaths as well as compressions.
To try to make my views on this clearer I have given 3 examples and how I would proceed.
- If I was walking through a city and a stranger collapsed, I would give compressions only CPR with the mouth and nose covered.
- If my father needed CPR I would give full CPR including breaths, it will increase his chances of survival. He has had no contact with the virus and nor have I (that we are aware of).
- If I were a first aider at work and a colleague needed CPR I would give hands only CPR. I may be willing to give breaths BUT I would need to know that the casualty and I had NOT had symptoms
Following this, wash hands thoroughly and monitor yourself closely for symptoms.
Please follow the link and watch the video. If you have any further questions, DO get in touch with me, Amy on 07796872170. I’m happy to talk through any Covid related scenarios or indeed any first aid questions you might have.