Resuscitation 2021

Resuscitation Guidelines 2021

On the 5th of May 2021, Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) released their latest Resuscitation Guidelines following on from the release of the European Resuscitation Council’s earlier in April.

That last paragraph has the power to send shivers down the spine of many first aiders who believe that their training is now out of date and that they need to retrain now. The truth of the matter is that certificates are still valid until their stated expiration date.

The other question that our first paragraph conjures up is, how will I remember even more changes when I re-train. We want to ease that worrying by exploring the changes that affect first Aiders in this article.

On the release of the guidelines the Resuscitation Council UK President, Jonathan Wyllie said,

‘Resuscitation Council UK is pleased to be publishing these Guidelines,
and we are grateful to those who gave up their time amidst the challenges
posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that best practice and excellence
in resuscitation remain on top of the agenda when it comes to positive
outcomes from cardiac arrests and decision-making in emergency care
planning. We look forward to these Guidelines being implemented
across the United Kingdom, and value the potential impact they have
to further improve patient survival and care.’

The guidelines were due to be released in 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, like most things got delayed until this month. They have been developed as the result of a continuous process over the last 5 years led by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). The Guidelines released by the RCUK are in collaboration with the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) and adaption of the ERC guidelines.

The most important to note is that these guidelines are developed in a continuous process of research over the last 5 years, meaning that they are based on up-to-date research and evidence to provide best practice in resuscitation over the next 5 years.

The implementation of these guidelines will be implemented over the coming year.

The guidelines cover various areas of resuscitation, some of which a first aider will not need to consider as these sections are aimed directly at hospital staff.

One line that comes out clear from the education section of the guidelines is:

Every person should learn to provide the basic skills to save a life’

Looking into the Epidemiology of cardiac arrest section the research that comes through sparks our interest:

  • Annually approx. 55 per 100,000 have Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest,
  • Half of these events are witnessed,
  • Bystanders attempt resuscitation in 7 out of 10 cases,
  • AEDs are used in less than 1 in 10 Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.

We feel that the last 2 of these statistics need to be improved, and by improving these more lives have the opportunity to live beyond the Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest.

The Guidelines have added a new section to this release. The new system is entitled Systems Saving Lives. There are several things that this section focuses on, one such thing, we have been to highlight over recent years and that is Restart a Heart day. Community initiatives like this are critical for the promotion of CPR. Restart a Heart Day is an annual event that delivers CPR training to children of school age every year, around the world.

The other thing that the new Systems section explores is the role of the ambulance Service dispatcher which is vital in the recognition of cardiac arrest and the instruction of bystanders. We have been advocating in our courses the use of a mobile phone on speakerphone, when calling the dispatcher, to enable the caller to carry out Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

As we move attention into the Adult Basic Life Support section of the Guidelines we note, reassuringly for our learners, there are no changes to the procedures currently known to our learners. The Guidelines do however discuss the importance of chest compressions commencing as soon as cardiac arrest is confirmed. They also mention the need for someone to fetch the AED and bring it to the scene. The Guidelines highlight The British Heart Foundation’s database The Circuit which serves as a national resource for the location of AEDs.

The only thing of note in the Special Circumstances Guidelines is the addition of the recent national update on anaphylaxis.

The last section of the Guidelines that we want to focus on is the Paediatric Basic Life Support section. As with the Adults, there are no major changes to the Guidelines. The Guidelines have strengthened the link between the first responder (First Aider) and the Ambulance Service dispatcher. The key here is for First aiders to make use of the speakerphone function of their mobile phones when calling the dispatcher.

The full Guidelines are available to view here. We have linked to the website for all the up-to-date information.

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