Metro Herald 18th October 2010
Members of the public should not give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation unless they are fully trained, according to new guidelines just published today.
Instead those lacking full skills should give chest compressions only – the best chance of saving a life. Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) involves chest compressions and ‘rescue’ breaths, with the aim of restarting the heart.
While charities urge people to learn full CPR and first aid, guidelines say untrained members of the public should just give chest compressions if they are helping out in a crisis.
Experts have found people are reluctant to give mouth-to-mouth, with some unwilling to ‘kiss’ a stranger and others concerned about getting the technique wrong.
The 2010 Resuscitation Guidelines just published said the first action should be dialling 999, followed by compression-only CPR or full CPR if a person is trained.
According to the document, every opportunity should be taken to give compression-only CPR because ‘any CPR is better than none’. People should perform chest compressions at a depth of 5cm to 6cm, at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. This differs to previous guidelines, which recommended more shallow compressions and a rate of 100 per minute.
Compressions can be carried out by placing one hand on the centre of the victim’s chest. The heel of the other hand should be put on top of the first and fingers should be interlocked, but kept away from the ribs. People should lean over the centre of the chest to perform CPR. If a bystander is fully trained, then full CPR with the ‘kiss of life’ is still the best option.
An estimated 30,000 people each year in the UK have cardiac arrests in the community but fewer than ten per cent survive and only around a third receive bystander CPR.
Studies have shown that a bystander performing CPR can double the chances of the victim living.
US research published last week warned against giving mouth-to-mouth, saying it interrupts time that is better spent on chest compressions. The new guidelines also recommend people use heart-start machines, called Automated External Defibrillators, even if they are untrained.
Meng Aw-Yong, medical adviser at the 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 needs it.’