Single rescuer cardiopulmonary resuscitation: can anyone perform to the guidelines 2000 recommendations?

Travis A Higdon, Joseph W Heidenreich, Karl B Kern, Arthur B Sanders, Robert A Berg, Ron W Hilwig, Lani L Clark, Gordon A Ewy
Resuscitation 2006, 71 (1): 34-9

BACKGROUND: The Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care recommend that for adult cardiac arrest the single rescuer performs "two quick breaths followed by 15 chest compressions." This cycle is continued until additional help arrives. Previous studies have shown that lay persons and medical students take 16 +/- 1 and 14 +/- 1 s, respectively, to perform these "two quick breaths." The purpose of this study was to determine the time required for trained professional paramedic firefighters to deliver these two breaths and the effects that any increase in the time it takes to perform rescue breathing would have on the number of chest compressions delivered during single rescuer BLS CPR. We hypothesized that trained professional rescuers would also take substantially longer then the Guidelines recommendation for delivering the two rescue breaths before every 15 compressions during simulated single rescuer BLS CPR.

METHODS: Twenty-four paramedic firefighters currently certified to perform BLS CPR were evaluated for their ability to deliver the two recommended breaths within 4 s according to the AHA 2000 CPR Guidelines. Alternatively, a simplified technique of continuous chest compression BLS CPR (CCC) was also taught and compared with standard BLS CPR (STD). Without revealing the purpose of the study the paramedics were asked to perform single rescuer BLS CPR on a recording Resusci Anne while being videotaped.

RESULTS: The mean length of time needed to provide the "two quick breaths" during STD-CPR was 10 +/- 1 s. The mean number of chest compressions/min delivered with AHA BLS CPR was only 44 +/- 2. Continuous chest compression CPR resulted in 88 +/- 5 compressions delivered per minute (STD versus CCC; p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Trained professional emergency rescue workers perform rescue breathing somewhat faster than lay rescuers or medical students, but still require two and one half times longer than recommended. The time required to perform these breaths significantly decreases the number of chest compressions delivered per minute. This may affect outcome as experimental studies have shown that more than 80 compressions delivered per minute are necessary for survival from prolonged cardiac arrest.

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