Hands-Only CPR

There has been some confusion since the American Heart Association (AHA) introduced its new recommendations on CPR with chest compressions only (without rescue breaths). The new "hands-only CPR" recommendation is a change in resuscitation that may affect you. The big question is "should I be doing this new method of CPR?"

Hands-only CPR (also called "compressions-only CPR") is a simplified method of conventional CPR where rescuers "push hard and fast in the center of the chest" without opening the airway or giving rescue breaths. Recent research is showing that this may be as effective as conventional CPR where you give rescue breaths after 30 chest compressions. In order to get more people to do CPR in cardiac arrest situations, the AHA now recommends this technique for people who might otherwise do nothing.

One important fact to keep in mind is that knowing conventional CPR (with rescue breaths) makes you more versatile in emergency situations versus just knowing "hands-only CPR." This is because some situations require rescue breaths, for example, airway obstruction. The skills you learned in opening and managing an airway are important, it's just that some people don't know them very well or at all and this prevents them from taking action.

The bottom line is this...do conventional CPR if you are confident in your ability to provide both high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions and rescue breaths. Otherwise do hands-only CPR. Note that hands-only CPR is for adults who have suddenly collapsed and are unresponsive.

The AED Challenge program has the capability to present scenarios using hands-only CPR. Your site administrator can set this option by logging into AEDChallenge.com. Next, click Options (in left column), click Edit AED Options then set "Adult Compression-To-Breath Ratio" to 30:0 and set "Initial Rescue Breaths" to OFF. Click Submit Updates. When running a scenario, you will still have to initially open the airway and assess breathing.