Is it possible to perform CPR during COVID-19 and the era of this “new normal?” Well, obviously a lot has changed since COVID started. A handshake, which used to be a very normal way to greet someone, has been done away with in place of physical distancing along with many other day-to-day things that we never used to think twice about. Where there was once closeness, there is hesitation and distance. People are now acutely aware of others and their proximity to themselves. While this fine for most interactions, in an emergency this could be a real issue.
Suppose you need to perform CPR on someone. Before COVID, most people would have jumped in without much hesitation. But now we’re talking about CPR during COVID, in which people are concerned about catching a highly contagious virus. Putting your mouth on a stranger’s mouth seems hazardous now and can cause someone to pause before taking action. In an emergency situation, especially one where someone has stopped breathing, every single second counts and can mean the difference between life and death.
Prior to COVID, fewer than half the people who experienced cardiac arrest received any help before first responders arrived. With people worried about their own personal safety in the midst of a pandemic, those numbers could drop even more, leading to people succumbing to cardiac arrest when intervention may have been possible. The first few minutes after someone stops breathing are critical. CPR can keep blood pumping long enough for an AED to be used to get the heart started again.
The good news? Hands-only CPR can double or even triple someone’s survival chances and it requires no rescue breaths. In addition to it keeping people safe from COVID, it’s also the best method of CPR to administer if you are uncertain of how to perform conventional CPR. To perform hands-only CPR on someone who may have COVID, perform the following steps as outlined by the American Heart Association:
- Phone 9-1-1 and have someone get an AED if there is one available
- Place your face covering over your mouth
- Place a face covering over the victim’s nose and mouth
- Perform hands-only CPR doing 100 compressions every minute. The compressions should be hard and fast
- Use an AED as soon as it’s brought to you
In order to ensure you’re doing the correct number of compressions, you may find it helpful to do them to the beat of a song. The song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees has long been the unofficial ‘official’ beat for doing CPR to. If you’re looking for some alternatives, the following songs do the trick as well: ‘Just Dance’ by Lady Gaga, ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley and ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper.
If you are concerned about contracting COVID while administering first-aid CPR, cover your own mouth and the mouth of the injured person and immediately being compressions. Since both parties will be wearing masks and there are no rescue breaths completed, there is little risk of infection to either party. For peace of mind, you could request a COVID test once you have performed hands-only CPR.
Being put in a situation where CPR is necessary is nerve-wracking at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a pandemic with a contagious virus. Brushing up on basic, hands-only CPR is a great way to keep your skills in check. This way, should you need them, you are familiar with the protocols and will be able to step in and act much more quickly.
Early intervention is critical when it comes to cardiac arrest so be sure to go over the basics with employees frequently, it should seem like second nature should they ever be put in the situation. Regular reviews of safety protocols lead to people acting quicker which is why it is so important to schedule regular safety meetings. The more you review something, the more second nature it becomes.
While your own health and safety are of the utmost importance, there are ways to safely perform CPR during COVID times. While the compressions need to be quick and hard, hands-only CPR is relatively easy to perform. You do not need formal training to administer CPR and it can be the difference that saves someone’s life, especially if administered in the first few minutes. In a situation where someone is no longer breathing, action is far more important than perfection.
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