CPR During COVID

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Northamptonshire first aid at work courses

Hands Only CPR - No Rescue Breaths

Dr Andy Lockey, Vice-President of Resuscitation Council UK, issues the latest guidance for what you should do if someone has an out of hospital cardiac arrest during the COVID-19 outbreak.

First responders should consult the latest advice on the NHS website ( https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-interim-guidance-for-first-responders/interim-guidance-for-first-responders-and-others-in-close-contact-with-symptomatic-people-with-potential-2019-ncov).

Resuscitation Council UK Guidelines 2015 state “If you are untrained or unable to do rescue breaths, give chest compression-only CPR (i.e. continuous compressions at a rate of at least 100–120 min-1)”.

Due to heightened awareness of the possibility that the patient may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers the following advice: 

  • Do not listen or feel for breathing in the traditional way by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. In order to recognise cardiac arrest look for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. If you are in any doubt whatsoever 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 perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victims mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care 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.