Hoping to encourage more bystanders to engage in
cardiopulmonary respiration, the American Heart Association
released new guidelines for the procedure, advising
chest-compression-only CPR for adults who suffer a sudden
cardiac incident. However, the change, does not apply to
children or drowning victims.
The new guidelines were developed based on three studies
published last year that found victims who received CPR
were more likely to survive if they received CPR, and the
CPR technique — chest compression only, or chest
compressions with mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration
— didn’t matter.
“Even if [a person] has not been trained in CPR
[he or she] can still save a life,” said Dr.
Michael Sayre, an emergency medicine professor at Ohio
State University and the lead author on the writing team
that developed the new guidelines. “If you see
someone in distress call 911 and start pushing hard and
fast on the victim’s chest,” he added,
summarizing the new guidelines.
Aquatics experts say operators should note the new
recommendations but refrain from making any changes to
“Hands-only is not for drowning resuscitation,
for children or adolescents,” said Dr. Steve
Beerman, Chair Medical Committee, International Life Saving
Federation. “Traditional CPR, with ventilation, is
needed for drowning [victims], children and adolescent
resuscitation. Drowning cardiac arrest is usually due to a
lack on oxygen and restoring oxygen by providing
ventilation is an important part of drowning and other
injury resuscitation. The AHA statement was clear on this;
however, media reports focused on the ‘hands
only’ part of the statement.”
According to David Markenson, M.D., FAAP, EMT-P, Chair,
American Red Cross Advisory Council on First Aid, Aquatics,
Safety and Preparedness, the new AHA recommendations bring
the AHA in line with Red Cross recommendations.
“For pool operators, a lifeguard acting in a
professional capacity would be expected to perform the full
level of assistance,” said Dr. Markenson.
“A drowning victim will always be better served
with artificial respiration and compressions.”
The AHA changes come in advance of regularly scheduled
reviews. Unless there are new research findings
precipitating another change, Dr. Sayre said the next
update won’t happen until 2010.