Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique. CPR includes chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. As a person performing CPR, you must be in close contact with the victim, including breathing into their mouth. Therefore, it is critical that you take precautionary measures to avoid any contamination from infected saliva, blood, or other body fluids.
Here are certain safety precautions to keep in mind if you are performing CPR.
• Shields and Masks – When performing CPR on a patient, be sure to wear a face shield or mask to avoid direct contact with the patient. During rescue breathing, fluids may transfer from the patient to you and a mask will protect you. The face shields are transparent and contain a one-way valve through which you can deliver rescue breaths. The mask avoids direct contact with the patient’s saliva and blood.
• Gloves – If you are a healthcare worker or paramedic and administer CPR regularly, you should always wear gloves. This is to avoid direct contact with the patient’s blood, vomit, or other potentially infected body fluids. Your health is important and keeping clean is very necessary to prevent infection. Wash your hands with soap after each CPR administration.
• Gowns and Eyewear – In a hospital or clinic, you need to wear gowns and eyewear when performing CPR in case blood accidentally splashes onto your face or eyes.
• Disposal of dirty equipment: Once CPR is complete, dispose of all dirty equipment, such as gowns and eyewear, masks, and gowns in a biohazard container.
• Health of the victim: The use of protective equipment such as masks and face shields not only protects your health but also that of the victim, since the victim has the same chance of contracting an infection.
• Lay person – If you are a lay person performing CPR on a stranger, you may not have access to these safety equipment. Therefore, it is recommended that you buy a mask and carry it with you in case you find yourself in a situation and have to perform emergency CPR.
• Infant and Infant CPR – You must be very careful when performing infant and toddler CPR. If the baby is not breathing, give gentle compressions with up to three fingers. Perform about a hundred chest compressions in a minute. Gently press down with your fingers on the center of your baby’s chest below the nipple. When giving rescue breaths, cover the baby’s nose and mouth and take two breaths, each breath lasting one second. This is different from an adult in that it does not cover the adult’s mouth while taking rescue breaths. Repeat thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths for as long as it takes the child to start breathing or until medical help arrives.
So you can see that both you and the victim are at risk of getting infections of any kind from each other. Since the victim is generally unresponsive, it is your responsibility to take safety precautions while performing CPR.