Do we still need rescue breaths?

As new research suggests that chest compressions alone can save the life of a casualty in cardiac arrest, the British Red Cross advises following existing procedures, which include giving rescue breaths.

The research, published by the American Heart Association, states that providing chest compressions without rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) can be enough to save a life.

As the evidence is not yet conclusive, the UK Resuscitation Council advises using current protocols. This states that rescue breaths should be given where possible but it is acceptable for people to give only chest compressions if they are unwilling or unable to give rescue breaths.

In fact, rescue breaths can be critical in certain situations, such as attempting to resuscitate children or victims of drowning, or when the emergency services' response time is more than four minutes. Joe Mulligan, head of first aid at the British Red Cross, said: "We applaud attempts to encourage more people to learn life-saving skills and recognise that some members of the public are unwilling or unable give rescue breaths. But in some situations, rescue breaths can be critical to the survival of the casualty, so should not be overlooked."

Notes to editors
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

For further information  
Lydia Mottershead
Tel: 0161 888 8952

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