Safe CPR during pandemic

Safe CPR during pandemic

HSE advice on safely performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic

13 May 2020

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has issued the following advice on how to safely administer CPR during the current pandemic.

In summary, the HSE:

  • recommends early use of a defibrillator
  • advises against mouth to mouth 

The HSE highlights the additional risks involved in administering CPR “in the light of the current pandemic and the possibility that the person who has collapsed may have COVID-19”. The HSE notes that a person whose heart has stopped is unlikely to survive if CPR is not administered before the arrival of the ambulance service and that it is a personal choice if you decide to give CPR.

Here is the most up to date advice to minimise risk and improve safety for all involved:

1. At all times keep your hands away from your face.

2. If a person has collapsed in a public space, do look for signs of breathing and signs of life.

3. Don’t listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth.

4. Dial 112 or 999 and ask for an ambulance. If COVID-19 is suspected, tell them when you call.

5. Use an AED as soon as possible. This significantly increases the person’s chances of survival. Place the AED pads on the person’s chest and apply a shock, if prompted by the AED. This is a safe procedure and should be attempted by a first responder.

6. Perform chest compressions only. Do not give mouth to mouth rescue breaths. If there is a perceived risk of infection, you should place a cloth/towel over the person’s mouth and nose and attempt compression-only CPR and early defibrillation until help arrives.

7. Afterwards, clean your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Clean and disinfect the AED if used.

Link to guidance on Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for lay rescuers in the context of COVID-19: