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HSE warns of risks of performing CPR during Covid-19 pandemic

Whether to administer CPR is still a personal choice, said the HSE.

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The use of a defibrillator is one of seven steps laid out by the HSE (Chris Radburn/PA)

The use of a defibrillator is one of seven steps laid out by the HSE (Chris Radburn/PA)

The use of a defibrillator is one of seven steps laid out by the HSE (Chris Radburn/PA)

The HSE has warned the public about the risks of performing CPR during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The HSE said that the public, particularly those familiar with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), play a key role in responding to people who collapse in public spaces, and in many instances save lives.

In light of the current pandemic and the possibility that the person who has collapsed may have Covid-19, the HSE said there is an element of risk, adding that CPR has to be managed in a new way.

“A person whose heart has stopped is unlikely to survive if CPR is not administered before the arrival of the ambulance service,” a HSE spokeswoman said.

“It is a personal choice if you decide to give CPR.”

Our advice sets out seven practical steps to reduce the risk while performing CPR, which also gives the person who has collapsed the best chance of survival during Covid-19 pandemicProfessor Martin Cormican

New advice issued by the HSE includes:

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

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

– Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth.

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

– Use an AED (automated external defibrillator) 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.

– 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.

– Afterwards, clean your hands using soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitiser.

Prof Martin Cormican, national lead for Infection Control and Antimicrobial Resistance, said: “For many people who were willing to carry out CPR it is now more difficult to know what to do because of Covid-19.

“We understand that this decision is very personal.

“Our advice sets out seven practical steps to reduce the risk while performing CPR, which also gives the person who has collapsed the best chance of survival during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Remember to ring 112/999 and ask for the ambulance service for any medical emergency.”

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