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Immediate Update for First Aid Training – Temporary Omission of Practical Rescue Breaths

Posted on 16th February 2021

With immediate effect, the First Aid Quality Partnership, in agreement with the HSE and Resuscitation Council UK, are supporting the temporarily omission of practical demonstrations of rescue breaths from first aid at work training courses. This is a precautionary measure while COVID-19 transmission rates remain high.

Our interpretation of this latest measure is that rescue breaths can still be taught on courses, but it is allowing tutors to make a choice in the interim, if they wish, to temporarily omit the rescue breaths from the CPR process (therefore chest only compressions are assessed). If learners feel uncomfortable about demonstrating rescue breaths in the current COVID-19 climate, this new measure allows for flexibility so as not to hinder the course continuing.

The rationale is that the Resuscitation Council feels on balance, if more first aiders attended training due to omitting rescue breaths and just demonstrating chest compressions only, it was better than having no training at all. This also fits with the current Resuscitation Council’s COVID-19 guidance of performing chest compression only CPR in a real life adult cardiac arrest.

For Tutors:

  • How to record if a learner has performed Adult chest only compressions:
    • On the Tutor Assessed Skills Sheet under the heading – ‘Identify when to start CPR and demonstrate CPR using a manikin including correct placement of AED pads’ and following AED instructions’ – write in the box “COC”.
  • When learners are attending a course, they should be wearing a facemask at all times (even when seated) as this is an important factor in preventing transmission along with social distancing measures. The facemask should only be removed when the demonstration of rescue breaths is to be performed.
  • When delivering courses, another important point is ventilation. Ventilation of the room plays a really important part in protecting against aerosolised virus – please refer to HSE’s guidance on room ventilation.
Please note:

Learners who are attending courses where child and infant CPR is being taught and / or how to deal with drowning casualties, will still be required to perform rescue breaths.

If you have any questions, please contact