A vital component of CPR is Rescue breathing, and may be part of your upcoming CPR certification or CPR course. Rescue breathing, however, can be daunting to some. Commonly known as “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation”, it has typically been part of every CPR class. It requires class participants to go mouth-to mouth on a victim of cardiac arrest, and breathe into their mouth while ensuring a clear airway. Most current guidelines recommend that rescuers perform two rescue breaths for every 30 corresponding compressions.
In cardiac arrest, a victim’s heart can stop beating and they may stop breathing. By utilizing rescue breathing, air immediately can be send into the victim which can keep them alive while waiting on first respondents to arrive.
There have been an updates to research as recent as 2010 which questioned the effectiveness of rescue breathing- particularly in situations where a mere bystander is delivering the CPR. It was found that rescue breathing by the layperson didn’t increase or improve the victim’s chance of survival. The bystanders simply feel uncomfortable putting their mouths on a stranger’s mouth to deliver the rescue breaths. Professionals have been trained to do this with a barrier mask, and naturally most bystanders coming upon an emergency situation do not have such masks on their person as protection. There have also been confidence issues-the bystanders not feeling confident administering CPR, and when they perform it, it was in many cases not done correctly.
The result of these findings have meant that CPR training programs nowadays are increasingly teaching a “hands-only” approach to CPR that is not only easier to perform, but doesn’t require the previously taught technique of rescue breathing. These new training programs for CPR teach that rescuers only have to push hard and fast in the center of the chest delivering compressions, to the tune of a song with the right kind of beat “Staying Alive” until emergency help arrives. This CPR technique is much more easily embraced by students taking CPR certification classes, and can mean the difference between survival and death.
Unknown Periods of Cardiac Arrest- If a victim didn’t fall to the ground in front of you and you discover them already in a state of cardiac arrest with no idea how long they’ve been in this state, they likely need the rescue breathing. The likelihood of blood being more depleted of oxygen increases the survival chances of patient suffering from the cardiac arrest.
Why is Rescue Breathing still taught in CPR Certification?
Rescue breathing is still a part of more detailed or comprehensive CPR training classes, particularly those directed at healthcare professionals. There is a valid reason for this; the rescue breaths are still the ideal mode of treatment for professionals to administer, even if bystanders are uncomfortable. In a hospital setting, this is still the treatment administered for cardiac arrest victims. There are also specific instances where hands-only CPR is essential- situations like respiratory failure (drowning, choking, severe asthma attacks, drug OD, and other trauma). Again, the blood will be low in oxygen and only using hands-only CPR would be pushing blood severely lacking oxygen around the patient’s body.
Knowing the difference between rescue-breathing and hands-on chest compression is an essential part of any CPR training and CPR certification- be sure to understand which technique needs to be part of your upcoming classes.