CPR technique: why does it keep changing?


Everybody who goes on a first aid course learns how to do CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) – an important lifesaving technique. But why do the CPR methods taught on first aid courses change from time to time?

What is CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)?

Give 30 chest compressions

CPR is used to treat a casualty who is not breathing or is in cardiac arrest and it consists of giving a mixture of chest compressions (also known as “heart massage”) and rescue breaths (also known as “mouth to mouth resuscitation”). By doing this the casualty gets a supply of oxygenated blood to the vital organs, especially the brain, which can help to reduce deterioration until more advanced medical help arrives.

If you have been on a first aid course you will have learnt how to do CPR and you will have practiced carrying it our on one of the CPR practice manikins such as the famous Resusci Anne. If you have taken a first aid course in the past and then perhaps taken a refresher course more recently you will have noticed some differences in the techniques you have been taught, and you might well wonder why these differences have occurred.

Well the good news is that although the techniques may have differed slightly, the main actions you need to take when you are dealing with somebody who is not breathing remain the same; get somebody to call 999 for an ambulance, alternate between giving the casualty chest compressions and giving them rescue breaths, also send somebody to fetch an AED of one is available while you stay with the casualty giving those vital chest compressions and rescue breaths.

 

How do these changes in CPR techniques come about?

You might be surprised to learn that although CPR has a long history, going back to ancient times, it was not until the late 1950s that some in the medical profession began to realise that it still had relevance in the modern world. Following a period of development headed by a doctor Peter Safar, it wasn’t until the 1970s that teaching CPR to the public on first aid courses became widely accepted. So in terms of being and accepted medical practice CPR is actually a relatively new technique, and with different groups of people in various countries all beginning to promote and teach CPR, differences began to develop.
Eventually the Resuscitation Council (UK) was established, with the following aims:

To encourage research into methods of resuscitation

To study resuscitation teaching techniques

To establish appropriate guidelines for resuscitation procedures

To promote the teaching of resuscitation as established in the guidelines

To establish and maintain standards for resuscitation

To foster good working relations between all organisations involved in resuscitation and to produce and publish training aids and other literature concerned with the organisation of resuscitation and its teaching.”

It is the work of the Resuscitation Council (UK) which has standardised the practice of CPR which is taught in the UK.

As with any specialist medical body the Council make use of any new research and scientific developments in CPR, as well as conducting their own surveys to monitor the effectiveness of what is being taught. In light of this the Resuscitation Council (UK) periodically publish updated or renewed guidelines on the most appropriate methods of CPR, and it is the release of these updated guidelines which trigger changes in the CPR methods you learn of first aid courses.

Although it may seem odd that you are now being taught different techniques to those you might have learned in the past, you can rest assured that by learning the latest techniques you are gaining the best possible skills to help you save lives.

Learn more about our First Aid Training Courses – full, refresher or update – available at your workplace OR at one of our nationwide centres.

 

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