When someone suffers with a cardiac arrest they require immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to stand any chance of survival. This requirement has been complicated during CO-VID 19 because of the necessary contact required to administer CPR to a non-breathing casualty. This has resulted in the UK resuscitation council issuing new guidelines as a temporary measure during these times.

Summary of Guidelines

Below is a quick summary of the new guidelines for adult CPR during CO-VID19.
  1. Place a clean cloth / towel over the casualty's face to minimize cross contamination during CPR
  2. Deliver high quality chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 minute
  3. Continue with hands only CPR and do not pause for rescue breaths

Clean Cloth / Towel

Firstly it is very important that the bystander present dials 999 /112 and states their location and that a casualty is not breathing. Next take any piece of cloth and place it directly over the casualty’s mouth and nose. This will help stop vapour droplets being pushed in the direction of the bystander who is administering CPR.

Please note this first step is optional as its main function is to protect the bystander. If you are unable to find a piece of cloth or willing to take the risk of cross contamination, then proceed to high quality chest compressions at the earliest possible opportunity.

Helpful hint - Place your phone on speaker mode so that you can talk and administer first aid at the same time

High Quality Chest Compressions

There is a strong link between early CPR and overall survival rate. Especially in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest where any residual oxygenated blood can be pumped around the body with high quality chest compressions.

The role of bystander is to start chest compressions at the earliest opportunity in the correct position, in the centre of the chest and hard enough to compress a depth of 5-6 cm. Compressions should be at a rate of 100-120 minute (roughly 2 per second) and allow for a full chest recoil after each compression.

Tip - Chest recoil means to allow the downward pressure to release by relaxing the hands after each compression

No Rescue Breaths

The CO-VID 19 update to the resuscitation council guidelines does not incorporate delivering rescue breaths during CPR because of the risk of contracting CO-VID 19 and the complications associated with getting people to deliver CPR in the public domain.

There is strong evidence that hands-only CPR can be just as effective as the combination of compressions and rescue breaths, especially in the adult age group where the arrest is usually sudden and cardiac in nature. 

Did you know - During sudden cardiac arrest, there should be a good level of residual oxygen in the arteries that can be pumped around the body (without the need for rescue breaths)

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash