So..Rescue Breaths or No?
A lot of us know the ratio or 30:2, that is 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths. But we’ve also heard that we ‘don’t have to give breaths anymore.’
So which is it?
Well, the answer isn’t cut and dry – it’s a decision that hopefully you’ll never have to make, but is up to you depending on the circumstances.
In 2009, the American Heart Association released a paper that states:
UNABLE TO GIVE BREATHS
A big focus during our classes here at Hands Down CPR is on confidence and competence; giving Rescue Breaths is the epitome of this. It’s not just enough to know how to give rescue breaths (competence), you also have to believe you are able to follow through effectively (confidence).
In other words, if you know how to give breaths but freeze, you’re unable. Conversely if you want so badly to be able to give rescue breaths, but simply don’t know the skill, you’re also unable.
Another reason is that you were never trained in the first place. Studies show that it’s ineffective to try to teach rescue breaths over the phone via a 911 operator.
Here's the American Heart Associations recommendations on when NOT to give breaths:
UNWILLING TO GIVE BREATHS
The second primary reason you wouldn’t give rescue breaths is because you’re simply unwilling. It’s common knowledge at this point that bloodborne pathogens (HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C) are transferable via bodily fluids – including the saliva of someone with open mouth sores or bleeding gums. That means, unless I have an extensive knowledge of a person’s medical history, there’s no way I’m giving breaths to someone I don’t know without a mask or a shield.
Also – folks are generally unwilling to put their mouth on a stranger in general, regardless of risk of disease. Having the option to omit rescue breaths from CPR increases the willingness of a bystander to help.
One of the very first lessons in BasicPlus | CPR, First Aid and AED for adults is about personal protective equipment. The lesson focuses on gloves, but using a mask during rescue breaths is just as important.
YES TO BREATHS
Still – utilizing both high quality chest compressions AND rescue breaths will lead to the highest survival rate.
Our recommendation: take your time in your next certification class to practice with the manikins. Perhaps you’ll consider getting certified annually to brush up on your skills more often.
Increase your confidence and competence to increase your life saving skills.