The Red Cross has undergone several changes over the years when it comes to CPR training. One of the newest things that the Red Cross is teaching in their courses is compression-only CPR for the lay rescuer.
This new technique of performing CPR has recently emerged based on research that was published in the Circulation journal and based on new evidence released from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR).
When a person collapses suddenly, performing consistent chest compressions will pump the heart and circulate the oxygen that is already in the person’s body. The goal is to keep the blood moving until emergency services arrive. The Red Cross acknowledges that compression-only CPR is a great alternative for those who are unwilling, uncertain, or unable to provide “full CPR” which includes rescue breaths. “Full CPR” consists of 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths on adults, children and babies.
There are cases where compression-only CPR should not be used and rescue breaths are necessary, such as a drowning person or when a respiratory emergency may have caused a cardiac arrest. It is also not recommended on a child or a baby. Children and babies don’t often go down due to cardiac events, they will often collapse due to a respiratory emergency such as anaphylaxis or asthma, or a choking emergency. Because it’s more of an airway related emergency, children and babies require rescue breaths in conjunction with compressions.
“Compression-only CPR is giving continuous chest compressions of approximately 100 compressions per minute, without giving rescue breaths,” says Rick Caissie, National Director, First Aid, and Swimming & Water Safety.
It’s important for lay rescuers to know that the CPR and AED training they have received is not out of date or incorrect. The Red Cross will still continue to teach full CPR with rescue breaths but also include compression-only CPR training. The basic steps remain the same:
- Recognize the emergency
- Check the scene for safety and then check the person
- Get help by activating 911 or your local emergency medical system (EMS)
- Ask someone to get an automated external defibrillator (AED)
- If the person is not breathing and not responding, immediately begin CPR to keep the oxygenated blood that is in their body moving
- At the center of the chest, perform about 100 continuous compressions with a depth of two inches on an adult, and an inch and a half on a child or a baby
- Continue compression-only CPR until another trained first aider can help, a higher medical authority arrives, when the AED is in “analyze mode” or “shock mode”
- Immediately go back to compressions if the person remains unresponsive and not breathing
CPR is easy to learn and can save lives. It is important to keep your training up to date and to practice your skills. There are several organizations that provide training such as the Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, or the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Contact your local provider today and book your course.