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Resuscitation face shields, Enabling The Kiss Of Life

Posted On 02 May 2012.

CPR involves administering chest compressions and rescue breaths to victims of cardiac arrest. One of the major barriers in this process is that members of the public do not feel comfortable touching the mouths of these victims. The modern world has drummed in to us that we are at a constant risk of cross infection, and that it is for medical professionals to save lives. A resuscitation face shield however eliminates the risk of cross infection, and ultimately should remove all barriers to giving CPR. The process itself can be learnt on a basic life support course.

Every year seven out of 10 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital, which means it is down to members of the public to save lives. Unfortunately only 5% of people in the UK survive these types of events. This low percentage is largely down to the human body shutting down, but a lack of assistance and inadequate CPR training also play a role. In essence many more lives could be saved if members of the public gave full CPR to victims of cardiac arrest.

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A study by the American Heart Association found that CPR given by a bystander can double or even triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. Sadly only 32% of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from these bystanders. The bottom line is that the vast majority of the public will not make mouth to mouth contact with a stranger. In line with this government registered charities have turned their attentions to training people on ‘hands only CPR’. This simplifies the process and involves solely giving chest compressions. Unfortunately the body requires a contact stream of oxygen and it is unlikely a cardiac arrest victim will survive through this method of treatment. If you enrol on any basic life support course you will learn the full CPR technique, which is the gold standard throughout the world.

The resuscitation face shield in its simplest form is a clear plastic sheet with a one way valve attached. The sheet is designed to be placed over a casualty’s face with the one way valve inserted in their mouth. The shields retail at between £0.50 to £3 depending on the type that you use. This could be considered a small price to pay for saving a life.

Manufacturers have created resuscitation face shields that can be clipped onto your car keys, or put into your wallet, which means they can be carried at all times. Unfortunately when cardiac arrests occur many minutes are wasted with people pondering what to do. Ultimately time is wasted because individuals do not want to give mouth to mouth. The first aider who is carrying their face shield has no such worries and can immediately begin the full CPR cycle. Surely this has the power to save more lives than just simply focusing on chest compressions.

If you imagine a scene where on a busy high street a man is found not breathing on the sidewalk. Some people have simply walked past the man believing he is drunk or simply unwilling to help. Others are gathered around looking at the vomit on his face simply not knowing what to do. The ambulance is on its way, but there are no guarantees that this will be enough. Luckily a first aider walks by who always carries a resuscitation face shield in her handbag. She quickly puts the device over the casualties vomit covered face protecting herself whilst blowing oxygen deep into the man’s lungs. Another bystander focuses on the chest compression and the chain of survival is re-ignited.

The morale of the story is that without the lady using her resuscitation shield the man would have little to no chance of surviving. Simply waiting for an ambulance is quite simply not enough.