At present there is a lot of confusion as to which type of CPR should be used on a casualty. There is no easy answer but it the vast majority of cases it should be ‘compression only’ and then breaths and compressions with a child an infant. Only those who have had comprehensive training may decide to initiate rescue breaths to a non-breathing casualty in the rare circumstance of a respiratory cardiac arrest.

But Why?

Many people often complain that First Ais is constantly changing, and to be honest there is some truth in these claims. However first aid has only changed over the years to make things more simple and many changes have been made on the back end of research that shows that survival rates can be increased.

So we have to presume that someone who has stopped breathing at home, work or at leisure has probably done so as a result of a sudden cardiac arrest. This means that their heart was working one minute and then has switched off the next.

New research has shown that there is a longer surplus of residual oxygen in the arteries than first anticipated and that the heart needs to be constantly compressed to avoid the cardiac arrest getting worst. In light of this the updated CPR protocol is to initiate chest compressions as soon as you know that someone has stopped breathing. Of course call the ambulance and keep going with this process until the paramedics have taken control of the scene.

No Breaths?

Thats right no breaths! Updated research points to the following points:

  • Studies found that the average person would not want to do rescue breaths to a stranger in the street. You may not feel like this but most people do, that's just fact!
  • First Aiders take to long to administer effective rescue breaths. Research shows that the heart is suffering during this time.
  • CPR can be more effective when people only have one task to focus on.

Respiratory Cardiac Arrest

It is far less common but definitely possible that someone will suffer a respiratory cardiac arrest. This is when the airway is blocked, which subsequently starves the heart of oxygen. Over a period of time the heart will eventually give up and a cardiac arrest will occur. During this time nearly all of the bodies residual supply of oxygen will be drained.

In light of this initial chest compressions are not the answer. The casualty needs oxygen;therefore it is best to breathe into the back of the casualty's mouth, as your own expired air still contains around 15% of this life saving gas.

This is the most common type of cardiac arrest that can occur to a child and it is always recommended to attend a full Paediatric First Aid Course or 3 Day First Aid at Work Course to learn the correct lifesaving protocol.

Examples of respiratory arrest include the following:

  • Casualty who has drowned
  • Anaphylactic Shock
  • Choking
  • Asthma
  • Croup

Updated guidelines are set to be released in early 2015, and we will get back to you in our next post with facts and statistics about the above.