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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

CPR turns 50

CPR techniques continue to improve over the decades, says ST JOHN.

Fifty years ago, in October 1960, the modern style of life saving cardio pulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR, was introduced.

This was when mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and chest compressions were first combined and began to be taught as CPR.

As recently as the 1970s in New Zealand, what we know as CPR today was only an option in a range of resuscitation techniques. One of the earliest recorded attempts at resuscitation was in 1530 when a Swiss physician introduced the use of fireplace bellows to force air back into the lungs.

In 1960 experiments using chest compressions with two hands showed that the technique could keep a victim alive until a defibrillator could arrive on the scene. Artificial ventilation was finally combined with chest compressions, creating the basis for the practice of CPR that we know today.

Over the last twenty years, research into resuscitation has increased and we are seeing changes to CPR about every five years. These changes are made to increase the effectiveness of CPR and make it easier to learn and remember. Recent media reports from overseas have provided some confusion in New Zealand, and it is worthwhile mentioning how CPR protocols are set in each country.

A group of resuscitation experts from around the world comprise the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. This group meets regularly and every five years intensively studies all appropriate and recent resuscitation research. The deliberations are summarised in a document known as a consensus. This consensus highlights changes to resuscitation which may be beneficial.

Most countries have a resuscitation council comprising representatives of resuscitation organisations from within that country. St John is a member of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council. Each resuscitation council considers the consensus and develops resuscitation guidelines appropriate for their country.

The media reports have related primarily to the American Heart Association (the American version of a resuscitation council), and the guidelines produced for America. They do not relate to New Zealand or any other country.

Countries do differ and need different CPR protocols. Issues like population spread, ambulance response times and the level of public CPR knowledge, all contribute to the need for protocols that are best suited to an individual country.

Today the public is encouraged to know how to perform CPR and it is taught as a central component of first aid courses. CPR is becoming easier to learn and perform, but it is important to keep up to date with changes, and practice regularly.

Over the coming months, the New Zealand CPR guidelines will be updated – what a great time to update your CPR skills.


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