A coronavirus is a group of viruses. They are known to cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and the novel coronaviruses (COVID – 19). The COVID-19 virus was first discovered in humans in December in 2019. Since then, the virus has since spread across the world with everyone at risk of infection.
The primary modes of transmitting the illness include contact with infected persons through coughing and sneezing. Droplets from the nose are also infectious. As a preventive measure, you should avoid contact with infected persons, wash hands frequently and thoroughly. To prevent infection, people should also avoid touching their faces.
The COVID-19 virus is a recently identified and highly contagious viral infection. Studies suggest that coronaviruses are transmittable from unidentified animal to humans.The viruses have little impact on animal bodies; however, when exposed to humans, they lead to illnesses. The disease presents itself with symptoms similar to that of the flu ranging from mild to severe. Such include fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat. The elderly and persons with other illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma are at increased risk of developing severe infections of the disease. As the disease progresses to its critical stages, it presents difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath and pneumonia in some cases resulting in fatalities. There are no known vaccines for the infection, and it takes 2-14days for symptoms to occur following infection with some people showing no signs.
Application of CPR on COVID- 19 Patients
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a clinical procedure essential in the revival of cardiac arrest victims. The CPR training covers details about the process to give chest compressions, rescue breathing, and the use of AED automated defibrillator to restore the normal heartbeat.
The cases of the COVID- 19 infections across the world are on the rise. When giving CPR, there lies a likelihood that the victim you are attending to carries the virus. Self-protection is essential at all times though studies show that the risk of contracting the virus is quite low. Cross infection is more likely to occur when issuing rescue breathes to unknown persons. Important to remember is that a cardiac arrest victim will die if CPR is not performed on time.
The coronavirus attacks humans through the respiratory system. At severe stages, the victims of the disease have difficulty in breathing or completely stop breathing. Quick response and performance of CPR on the patient will be helpful as it will increase the chances of survival.
When a person stops breathing, the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body organs. If unable to breathe, an individual will fall unconscious within 20 seconds. Without adequate oxygen supply, the brain, which controls the body functions dies within minutes. The result is usually permanent brain damage or death. If the victim is experiencing difficulties breathing or unable to breathe, CPR should start immediately.
The first initiative will be to call for emergency help. As you make the call, it is essential to notify the emergency response team if you suspect the victim to ail from the coronavirus.
The procedure of performing CPR on COVID- 19 patients
The human blood has enough oxygen to keep the person alive for close to an hour. Through the performance of CPR, the blood is kept in circulation, keeping the major body organs alive.
If the rescuer is untrained on CPR or experiences challenges in issuing rescue breaths, it is advisable to give chest compressions only. When performing CPR, there is a risk of contracting the quickly spreading coronavirus. The virus is transmittable by either the person giving CPR or the one receiving. It is practical to take up safety measures when performing CPR to unknown persons.
Recognizing signs of life in a cardiac arrest victim
With the outbreak of the virus, you should avoid using the known ways of checking for signs of life. The rescuer should avoid placing their ears and cheeks close to the victim’s mouth to check for breathing. In this case, you should tap the victim’s shoulder and try talking to them to see if they’ll respond. If the rescuer is in doubt about the signs of life, they should immediately call for help and begin on the chest compressions.
The CPR hands-only procedure involves giving compressions use of the heels of the hands. First, move the victim to safety if need be and lay them on their back. The compression should be performed the chest right between the nipples at a rate of 100-120 chest compressions per minute. The recommended pressure on the chest should push to a depth of 5-6cm.
The rescuer should keep performing the chest compressions until the victim recovers, emergency response take over, the victim is pronounced dead, or their lives are at risk. Performing CPR will help keep the blood flowing to the vital organs by creating an artificial heartbeat.
Performing CPR to children and infants
The caretaker of children should always be on the watch out for signs of the coronavirus. If a child or infant experiences difficulty in breathing, the caregiver should call for help and start on CPR within the shortest time possible. However, if untrained, the individual should rush the child to the hospital before he or she progresses into a cardiac arrest.
When performing CPR on children and infants, the chest compressions are similar to those of adults except less pressure is applied. For infants and children, the pressure applied on the chest compressions should not exceed 1.5 inches deep. The rescuer can use three fingers to provide the chest compressions.
Giving CPR and rescue breaths
The performance of rescue breaths helps in supplying the victim with oxygen through the lungs wherever the individual has difficulty breathing or stops breathing altogether. CPR alongside rescue breaths helps in keeping the victim alive. The rescuer should give 30 fast chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute and two rescue breaths alternatively, repeating the cycle till health professional take over or the victim regains normal breathing. After delivering the first rescue breath, the chest of the victim should rise. Failure to raise will mean that there is an obstruction in the airway of the victim. If you are unable to get rid of the blockage, the rescuer should keep giving the chest compressions.
For children and infants victims, the rescuer should avoid breathing too hard into them and use the cheek size pressure.
Traditionally, this procedure involves breathing directly into the victim’s mouth or nose. This practice might be risky with strangers and persons suffering from the coronavirus. Barriers are beneficial for personal safety when giving rescue breaths. If unable to access it, give chest compressions till help arrives.
The use of AED
However, CPR and rescue breaths alone cannot restore the heartbeat. The automated external defibrillator is applied to a cardiac arrest victim to deliver electric current to the victim’s heart. If the rescuers have access to AED and the skills, make use of the device as it increases the chances of survival of the victim. Using the AED machine does not increase the risk of acquiring the coronavirus.
The AED is used to revive cardiac arrest victims by delivering shocks to the heart, which help restore its normal functioning. When the heart stops pumping blood, it undergoes some stages before it dies completely. For an individual experiencing cardiac arrest, the heart’s pace is too fast, too slow, or irregular. The states classified as ventricular fibrillation (Vf), non-perfusing ventricular tachycardia(VT) and Asystole. The automated defibrillator can detect if the heart rhythms are shockable. If the heart is in Asystole, shocking, it will not revive the patient.
Use of personal protective equipment PPE
The rescuer should make use of personal protective equipment if accessible. Such include medical masks, gloves, face shield\goggles, and protective gowns. After use, the rescuer should remove the personal protective equipment appropriately and dispose of as required. Upon taking off the protective gear, the rescuer should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the COVID -19 virus(Coronavirus)
After performing CPR, the rescuer should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Alternatively, the individual can make use of alcohol-based hand gel to sanitize their hands.
If an unresponsive person doesn’t receive CPR in the shortest time possible, they will die or suffer long term brain damage. The risk of death outweighs that of contracting the COVID- 19(Coronavirus). Any person who witnesses a cardiac arrest event should act fast and offer the necessary help to the victim. Whether trained or not, anyone should be able to give chest compressions. However, training on CPR is available online with online CPR certifications. Persons with CPR certification have the ability and confidence to deliver high-quality CPR, which increase the chances of survival.