Have you see the new publicity video produced by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) featuring Vinnie Jones carrying out Compression only CPR? If you haven’t see it yet, then you can find it here on the BHF site.
The video has prompted many questions about the need for Rescue Breaths (mouth to mouth).
This, together with the incorrect reporting in the media of an American study, which allegedly showed that survival rates were just the same whether Rescue Breaths were used or not, has meant that many people now believe that compression only CPR is just as good as full CPR.
The BHF have stated in their recent publicity material that “CPR with rescue breaths should remain the gold standard but if someone is untrained, or unsure about how to give rescue breaths and chest compressions, Hands-only CPR is still more likely to increase a casualty’s chance of survival”. However, this caveat does not appear anywhere on the video.
I am also a bit puzzled by the BHF using the Bee Gees “Staying alive” track in their video.
A study published in 2009 showed that using the song as an aid did increase the number of people getting the right rate. But there was a drop in those hitting the correct depth.
Now a much more recent study, published in Emergency Medicine Journal (USA), has investigated similar music tracks. It showed more than a third of compressions were still too shallow.
The authors concluded: “When considering the combined importance of correct depth and rate, the authors are unconvinced that music provides any benefit in improving the quality of CPR compared with a metronome or audible feedback, suggesting that this interesting but unproductive area of resuscitation research should be discontinued.”
So… just to be absolutely clear, compression only CPR is only being promoted as a suitable method for untrained members of the public.
Anyone who has received formal first aid training will still be expected to carry out full CPR, which includes Rescue Breaths, because this is the best way of increasing the casualty’s chance of survival.
Correctly performed CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation – or mouth-to-mouth) is lifesaving and is thought to triple survival rates.
There may be rare cases where a qualified First-Aider is unable (because of facial injuries) or unwilling (because they do not have a face shield) to carry out Rescue Breaths. In these cases it is then acceptable to carry out Compression Only CPR.
The chain of survival shows how each element is equally important in the life saving process. Carrying out only one procedure on its own is of no use if an ambulance hasn’t been called and a defibrillator is not on the way.
The UK Resuscitation Council recommends that the chest is compressed by 5-6 cm and at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.