Chest compressions only can be the difference
Untrained members of the public can
increase the chances of survival for cardiac
arrest victims by carrying out chest compressions, to pump oxygen
around the body, without doing mouth to mouth
resuscitation. This is according to the UK body that sets the
guidance, Resuscitation Council UK.
All members of the public should also be encouraged to
use an AED (automated external defibrillator) – a machine
that may restart the heart – on cardiac arrest patients when,
previously, training was needed. St John Ambulance has developed an
online guide for those who would like more information on how to do
chest compressions and use an AED.
Resuscitation Council (UK) says that an estimated 30,000 people
each year have cardiac arrests outside of hospital in the UK yet
currently only one third receive CPR from a bystander. Research
shows that a patient's chance of surviving is
doubled if bystanders perform CPR.
It is believed that having to give rescue breaths can put
bystanders off giving CPR to cardiac arrest victims. The good news
is that if you are unwilling, unable – or, now, untrained – then
Resuscitation Council says that chest compressions are
better than nothing. The compressions pump already
oxygenated blood around the body to the vital organs. The emergency
services should also be called.
This is a great step forward in ensuring that more people are the difference between lives lost and lives saved.
Medical Advisor, St John Ambulance
The new resuscitation guidelines go on to state that those
members of the public who are trained in delivering rescue breaths
should continue to do so. This is the method of choice for those
who know what to do, as chest compressions are only effective for a
limited time. St John Ambulance encourages as many people as
possible to receive training.
The difference between life and death
Meng Aw-Yong, Medical Adviser at St John Ambulance, said: 'Every
year thousands of people die of cardiac arrest when first aid could
have helped them live.
'These changes are effectively saying that people who are
untrained should have a go at doing chest compressions because
something is better than nothing and they could be buying time for
someone who desperately needs it.
'Encouraging untrained members of the public to do chest
compressions, as well as using an AED to try and restart the heart,
could have a dramatic effect on the numbers surviving cardiac
'The best option is still full CPR with rescue breaths and we
encourage more people to be trained to deliver this.'
Download our PDF - Resuscitation techniques for untrained
bystanders - for more information on chest compressions and how to
use an AED.