• Andrew Billington

COVID-19 in relation to CPR and Resuscitation in First Aid and Community Settings


Whenever CPR is carried out, particularly on an unknown victim, there is some risk of cross infection, associated particularly with giving rescue breaths. Normally, this risk is very small and is beset against the inevitability that a person in cardiac arrest will die if no assistance is given. The first things to do are shout for help and dial 999.



  • First responders should consult the latest advice on the NHS website.

  • 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 guidance may change based on increasing experience in the care of patients with COVID- 19.

  • Healthcare workers should consult the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and Department of Health and Social Care for further information.



Resuscitation Council UK Guidelines 2015

“If you are untrained or unable to do rescue breaths, give chest compression-only CPR.

Because of the heightened awareness of the possibility that the victim may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers this 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 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 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 any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) this 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.

Further Reading.

ERC-CPR-UPDATE.pdf
Download PDF • 470KB


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