One of the biggest debates and area of misinformation related to CPR is about the issue of rescue breathing. In 2010, “compression-only” CPR guidelines were released which led many people to believe that rescue breaths were no longer a part of CPR. So, are they? Also, should a bystander provide them while giving CPR? What if someone stops breathing but has a heartbeat? In the time of COVID-19, these questions are even more pressing and important, which is why our CPR training center in Raleigh wanted to take the opportunity to provide clarity so you know if you should include this step in life-saving first aid.

What Is Rescue Breathing?

When someone isn’t able to breathe on their own, they still need oxygen to survive, so air has to manually be put into their lungs. This can be done with a machine, such as a ventilator or respirator, but outside of a hospital, this is done through mouth-to-mouth contact.

Does Rescue Breathing Work?

The short answer is simply, “Yes.” This is especially true when a lack of oxygen was the original cause of cardiac arrest in the first place. The American Heart Association recommends providing rescue breathing with compressions in the event of:

  • Drowning
  • Opioid overdose
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Unresponsive infants (often caused by SIDS or suffocation)

Also, victims of cardiac arrest who may have been without oxygen for a prolonged time will have an improved prognosis with rescue breathing.

Hands Only CPR vs. Rescue Breaths with CPR

The American Heart Association released guidelines for what is called “Hands-only CPR” in which a rescuer only provides chest compressions and no supplemental breathing. The release of this technique is what led to many people to think rescue breathing was no longer important, but in reality, the AHA cleared this technique for two reasons:

  1. Studies show that if carried out within the first few moments of an out-of-hospital event of cardiac arrest, hands-only CPR is effective for adult victims.
  2. No training is necessary. People often panic or feel helpless during a cardiac emergency, but hands-on CPR only requires a bystander to call 911, then provide hard, quick compressions in the center of the chest to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive.”

For healthcare workers and people who receive CPR training, rescue breaths are still taught in the training curriculum and required to get certified.

How to Perform Rescue Breathing

According to the AHA rescue breathing guidelines, quality over quantity is key. One breath is given every six to eight seconds, and each breath should take about one full second to administer. Rescue breathing is given through the following steps:

  • Tilt the victim’s chin back slightly to open the airway;
  • Pinch the nose shut;
  • Place your mouth directly over the victim’s open mouth and exhale at a moderate, steady pace.

Child rescue breathing is similar, taking care to keep the chin and head tilted back slightly upward to keep the airway open. Infant rescue breathing involves placing your mouth over the nose and mouth, rather than pinching the nostrils, and placing your hand on the forehead to tilt the head, rather than relying on a chin tilt method.

Is It Safe to Perform Assisted Ventilation?

Due to COVID-19, more people are concerned about providing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and that is understandable. One way to prevent transmission is through a rubber, single-way mask that is found in most first aid kits. It fits snugly over the victim, and the rescuer breathes into a valve which delivers air into the victim’s lungs while minimizing exposure to any germs. Make sure these masks are available with your organization’s AED or first aid kit.

Additionally, hands-on CPR is a viable, life-saving option for most victims and minimizes spread, also.

Schedule CPR Training in Raleigh Today

While these tips are helpful, nothing compares to having hands on training when it comes to life saving techniques. To give the most effective first aid and lifesaving care, get your CPR certification today. Check our class schedule or set up an on-site CPR training course for your workplace or organization by calling our Raleigh location today at (919) 639-4848 or filling out our contact form.