When you hear the term mouth-to-mouth resuscitation there may be hesitation on your part, a lack of self-confidence. You may experience the feelings of fright, faintheartedness, or timidness in performing the skill. Let me assure you that you are capable and well able to perform this simple technique.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a form of artificial ventilation. This technique is used to help a person who is not breathing or is not breathing normally (agonal gasping) to Breathe again. A rescuer places his or her mouth against the mouth of the victim and blow air into their lungs.
A general rule of thumb, before attending to any individual needing help be sure the scene is safe. This is to avoid injury to yourself (you do not want to become a victim) and further harm to the individual. Continue to survey the scene for safety throughout rendering of care.
After checking for the responsiveness of an individual, make sure that the individual is laying face up on a firm flat surface. Kneel on the side of the individual’s neck and shoulder.
Assess for breathing
Scan from head to waist looking for rise and fall of the chest. Take 5 to 10 seconds to do this but no more than 10 seconds. Once you have identified there is no breathing (no rise and fall of the chest) or you have identified agonal gasping (not breathing normally, which is presented as a quick intermittent drawing in of air simultaneously with movement of the head & shoulders and sounds of groans) you are now ready to deliver air by means of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, given all the other steps of CPR are met.
Provide an open airway
This lifts the tongue from back of the throat to make sure breaths are passed to the lungs.
Place the palm of one hand on the person’s forehead. Place the fingers of the second hand under the Bony area of the chin. Do not press into soft part of neck or under the chin, this will cause an occlusion and delivered breath will not pass through to the lungs.
Gently tilt the head back with the first hand while lifting the chin forward with the second hand (head tilt chin lift maneuver).
With the airway open (head tilt chin lift maneuver) pinch the nostril shut using the index finger and the thumb of the first hand. Do not over extend the neck, this will cause an occlusion by the tongue and the air delivered will not pass through to the lungs. Instead, place the head in a neutral or sniffing position to avoid hyper-extension of the neck. Sniffing position is the position in which you place your head when sniffing something that has aroused your sense of smell.
Take a normal breath. Cover the person’s mouth with yours making a tight seal to prevent escape of air.
Deliver two breaths
Each breath is delivered over one second. Watch for chest rise during delivery of each breath. Seeing the beginning of the chest rise verifies you have delivered effective breaths.
If chest does not rise when breath is delivered, reposition the head to its neutral position, reopen airway using the head tilt chin lift maneuver and attempt delivering breath in the same manner as you have done before.
Be careful not to deliver breaths too quickly or forcefully. Breaths that are delivered too quickly or forcefully can cause gastric inflation and stimulate vomiting. Contents that are vomited can go to the lungs a term known as aspiration. As we know food belongs in the stomach and not the lungs.
When giving breaths to small children you will not need to blow as much as you do for a larger child or an adult. Remember when you see the chest begin to rise you have delivered enough air. Always check the mouths of children for objects before giving breaths. If an object is noted and can be removed then do so and deliver breaths.
Mouth-to-mouth can be done with or without a barrier device. When using a barrier device, follow the same steps instructed above.
Now that you have read the steps on mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the next time you hear the term you should feel confident in performing the technique.
Now go and save lives!