All 50 US states have started to reopen in some capacity, according to this recent NY Times article. As markets begin ‘opening up’ and employees return to work, facility managers need to implement rigorous safety precautions to guard against a COVID-19 infection. But what happens if an employee suffers a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and needs CPR? Surely this requires physical contact and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, right? Not necessarily…
Hands-only CPR is now recommended
It may come as a surprise to some, but the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends hands-only CPR when treating teenagers or adults who collapse suddenly. For years, emergency professionals have administered CPR using the ABCs of emergency care, in this order:
This method is backwards, as one of the last functions to fail is the body’s need to breathe. According to Very Well Health, our focus on airway is obviously critical but has failed to account for one crucial point: “While breathing is the most important item on the brain's to-do list, pumping blood isn't even up to the brain to remember. Pumping blood is a function of the heart, and the heart does it without even being told.”
In other words, if the heart fails, the brain stops working. A person suffering SCA will still have enough oxygen in their blood and lungs to keep vital organs functioning for the first few minutes after collapse, assuming someone can administer well-executed chest compressions to move blood to the heart and brain. This means hands-only CPR should be the go-to technique for keeping the victim’s oxygenated blood moving.
COVID-19 CPR guidelines
The AHA has released an interim Basic and Advanced Life Support guideline, advising that hands-only CPR should be administered to limit the transfer of the virus between rescuer and patient. Those performing CPR should also cover both their and the SCA victim’s nose and mouth with a mask to limit infection. If possible, rescuers should also use an automated external defibrillator (AED). This medical equipment is not thought to produce aerosol particles and doesn’t require skin-on-skin contact.
Due to the infectious nature of the virus, the AHA has issued preventative measures for emergency personnel to protect themselves from the virus on the scene of a cardiac arrest. They recommend:
- All rescuers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to guard against contact with both airborne and droplet particles.
- Limiting the number of personnel on-scene to only those essential for patient care.
- In healthcare facilities, emergency professionals should consider replacing manual chest compressions with mechanical CPR devices to reduce the number of rescuers in the room.
Based on AHA recommendations for emergency response during the pandemic, it’s incumbent on facility managers to ensure that they have AED equipment, but also that it is well-maintained and is in optimal working order.
The PlusTrac™ AED Program Management System is a cost-effective, reliable way to maintain your AEDs. It offers an interactive, web-based system with the tools and guidance needed to manage an AED program that is fully compliant with Good Samaritan regulations. When combined with a state-of-the-art defibrillator such as the ZOLL AED 3®, facility managers can rest assured they’ve put the necessary measures in place for emergency situations during the pandemic. The ZOLL AED 3® defibrillator uses cloud connectivity to automatically report the status of the device. This limits facility visits from technicians, which in turn keeps staff safe from unnecessary infection.
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