Cardiac arrest doesn’t stop for COVID-19. We want to stress the importance of still providing CPR and defibrillation if someone has a cardiac arrest. The Resuscitation Council UK has updated its guidelines on the provision of CPR.
Whenever CPR is carried out, especially on an unknown victim, there is some risk of cross infection, particularly when giving rescue breaths. However, usually this risk is considered small, and is set against the inevitability that a person in cardiac arrest will die if no treatment is given. The first thing you should always do is call 999 and call for help.
Because of the heightened awareness of the possibility that the victim may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers this advice:
1) Identify cardiac arrest by checking for signs of life and if the patient is breathing normally. Do not listen or feel for the breath by placing your cheek close to the mouth of the patient. If in doubt, call 999 and commence CPR until help arrives. If you believe the victim may have COVID-19, alert the call handler.
2) You should place a cloth or a towel over the victims mouth and nose and attempt compressions and early defibrillation only, until the ambulance arrives. Interlock your hands and place them over the middle of the chest. Push hard and fast.
3) If you can, send someone to fetch the nearest defibrillator. When it arrives, switch it on and follow the instructions. The use of a defibrillator can greatly increase the chances of survival, and has not been shown to increase the risk of infection.
4) If you have any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to you, this should be worn.
5) After performing compressions and defibrillation only, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible; alcohol-based hand gel can be used if you are unable to wash your hands properly with soap and water. Seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service or medical adviser.
London Hearts CPR training sessions will follow the procedures set out by the The Resuscitation Council UK. We are monitoring the guidance for any changes. Please visit The Resus Council website for the latest information on CPR training guidance. https://www.resus.org.uk/covid-19-resources/covid-19-resources-general-public