Continuous Chest Compression CPR

As a result of recently released CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) guidelines, saving a life just became a whole lot easier. These new guidelines relate to compression only CPR, also called Continuous Chest Compression CPR. This is a hands-only CPR method that doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. This easy technique involves pressing on the chest of a person in cardiac arrest without having to provide mouth-to-mouth ventilations, making it more likely bystanders will try to help.

Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine pioneered Continuous Chest Compression CPR. Their researchers discovered years ago that overwhelming numbers of people will not perform CPR on a stranger because they do not want to do mouth-to-mouth breathing. It will certainly result in more individuals initiating bystander rescue efforts since they do not have to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing.

Doctors from the Sarver Heart Center recommend following these steps if you witness someone collapse:

  1. Shake the person and shout, “Are you OK?” If the person is unresponsive and not breathing, or breathing abnormally (struggling to breathe, gasping for air or snoring), direct someone to call 9-1-1 or make the call yourself.
  2. Position the person with the back on the floor. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest (between the nipples) and the heel of the other hand on top of the first. Lock your elbows, position your shoulders over your hands and use your upper-body weight to “fall” downward. Lift your hands slightly each time to allow the chest wall to recoil. Try to compress at 100 beats per minute and about two inches (five centimetres) deep until emergency help arrives.
  3. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, turn the unit on and follow the voice instructions. If no AED is available, perform continuous chest compressions until the paramedics arrive.

Continuous chest compressions can be physically tiring so if someone else is available, take turns doing 100 chest compressions each, then switch.

Do not perform Continuous Chest Compression CPR on infants, children and in cases where the cardiac arrest was not witnessed or was due to special circumstances such as near-drowning. You should, however, perform the complete CPR technique, which includes both chest compression and rescue breathing in the above special cases.

St. John Ambulance supports the compression only CPR but reminds Canadians that it is not a replacement for the complete CPR technique. They still recommend for Canadians to become certified in the complete CPR technique.

Les Johnson, Director of Training for St. John Ambulance Canada, recommends compression-only CPR for individuals who are confronted with a cardiac arrest that have not been trained, or are unsure of their ability to perform CPR, or are reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “Close to 80 per cent of cardiac arrests occur in a residential setting,” says Johnson. “Odds are it will be on someone you know. This way you can react immediately to help save a loved one, whether you are certified or not.”

St. John Ambulance will continue to teach all CPR components in their classes, including an emphasis on the early use of the defibrillator. Johnson adds that if you have had CPR training, the skills you were taught are still okay to use. Beginning CPR immediately is the key component. Whether you are performing the complete CPR technique or Continuous Chest Compression CPR, you can make a valuable difference in helping to save a life.

For more information and to watch a video on Continuous Chest Compression CPR, please click here.