New research has revealed that almost a third of adults in the North East don’t know if, during the COVID-19 pandemic, CPR should only be carried out by professionals wearing PPE (personal protective equipment).

You Gov carried out an online survey of 2,086 adults across the UK between 9-10 September 2020 and 94 people living in the North East responded to whether they believed it was true or false when asked the following statement: ‘Since the coronavirus pandemic it has emerged, all bystander CPR should only be carried out by professionals wearing PPE.’

• 19% of respondents in the North East responded true
• 52% of respondents in the North East responded false
• 29% of respondents in the North East said they didn’t know

The organisations behind Restart a Heart Day are concerned this could result in people waiting rather than acting to someone unconscious, putting thousands of lives at risk. They are urging the public to act immediately to perform CPR when someone has collapsed and stopped breathing.

Deputy medical director Michael Norton said, “Cardiac arrest can affect any of us at anytime and anywhere. Most cardiac arrests occur at home so if you witness a cardiac arrest, it will often be a family member.

“Even if you haven’t had an opportunity to enroll in a CPR course, you can help save a life by performing chest compressions. When you call us on 999, we will talk you through what to do while our colleagues are coming to help you.

“Even though today’s focus is on CPR with Restart a Heart Day, the advice you see being given will be useful to somebody every day of the year. In cardiac arrest, starting CPR, even if you have never had a lesson, gives the person a fighting chance of survival.”

Community resuscitation officer Alex Mason said, “CPR buys time when the heart has stopped beating, as it helps keep the brain alive. More people need to know what to do and I would encourage everyone to look at the resources online, even if you have been trained in the past, as a refresher is always helpful and keeps you up to date with current guidelines.

“NEAS wants to help keep our communities safe and we offer first aid training, CPR and defibrillator awareness sessions, as well as public access defibrillator packages and advice.”

‘Get hands on’ is the call for all members of the public to do by acting immediately by performing hands-only CPR in an emergency.

Everyone is encouraged to learn the simple steps to perform CPR that will give a cardiac arrest victim the best chance of survival whilst reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission from performing CPR.

With 80% of out of hospital sudden cardiac arrests occurring in the home and with a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest reducing by 10% for every minute without CPR and defibrillation, the clear message on Restart a Heart Day is to learn CPR and have the confidence to use it.

This year, there is also an emphasis on learning and teaching CPR using updated guidance that reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. With early reports showing that the chance of survival may have decreased in many countries because fewer bystanders are helping in an emergency, it is essential that the UK public take the time to learn CPR skills using the updated guidance.

These CPR skills can be learned on and around 16 October through the free digital resources available at: www.resus.org.uk/rsah and by participating in digital training events across the country.

Guidance issued early in the pandemic by Resuscitation Council UK sets out how to do CPR with reduced risk to the bystander and without negatively impacting the collapsed person’s chances of survival.

The key changes are loosely laying a face covering, such as a mask, cloth, towel or item of clothing, over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and to do hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths).

Here are the steps you should take if you witness a cardiac arrest during COVID-19:
1. If you see someone has collapsed and is not breathing or not breathing normally, do not put your face next to theirs when checking for breathing. Instead, check for signs of breathing by looking to see if their chest is moving.
2. Call 999.
3. Lay a face covering, such as a mask, a cloth, towel or piece of clothing loosely over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed (i.e. do not seal the mouth and nose).
4. Do not do mouth to mouth rescue breaths.
5. Start chest compressions by pressing hard on the chest two times per second – you can keep your time by following the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ or ‘Baby Shark’.
6. Use a public access defibrillator if one is available.