First Aid: Performing CPR during the COVID-19 Outbreak

If you have been on a first aid course will be familiar with the Resuscitation Council UK; the organisation which produces guidelines for CPR. Recently the Resus Council has released a statement on performing CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this statement, they remind us that almost 200 people each day in the UK suffer from out of hospital cardiac arrest. Someone suffering from cardiac arrest is not breathing normally, and their heart is no longer beating. Without help, this person will die. To give this person the best chance of survival, we must start CPR as soon as possible.

If you have attended a first aid course, you’ll know that the first consideration when dealing with a casualty is Danger. Danger to yourself, others and then finally the injured person. To reduce the risk of infection to first aiders, the Resus Council now recommend that the general public and first aiders follow this advice:

  • The first aider should use personal protective equipment if it is available. Examples of this PPE include disposable gloves, eye protection and FFP3 face masks.
  • Do NOT listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the casualties’ mouth. Instead, look for the absence of signs of life and the absence of breathing. “If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.”
  • Ensure that you call for an ambulance. If for any reason you suspect COVID-19, inform the call handler.
  • To help minimise the risk of infection; first aiders should place a cloth or towel over the casualties mouth and nose, helping to stop the transfer of airborne virus particles.
  • The first aider should use hands-only CPR. Place your hands together on the middle of the casualties chest and push hard and fast, to the tempo of staying alive.
  • If you have access to a defibrillator, sometimes called an AED, it should be used as soon as possible. The early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the casualties chance of survival without an increase of infection.
  • After performing compression-only CPR, all of the first aiders should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. They should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service.


If you would like to develop the knowledge and skills to deal with people who have taken ill, why not have a look at our first aid courses. We deliver a range of courses which may be of interest to you. Our emergency first aid at work course and first aid at work course are for workplace first aiders. These courses are delivered over one or three days. They cover a range of incidents that you may commonly experience in your workplace.

We also deliver a suite of outdoor-based courses; including the two-day outdoor first aid course and the two-day forest school first aid course. Both of these courses cover a more extensive range of topics including Lymes disease, cold water shock, and protecting a casualty for the environment. They are appropriate for those who will be several hours from help in a remote setting.

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