CPR+AED is usually taught with a CPR manikin of the male physique, and trained lifesavers are primed to perform CPR+AED on males compared to females.
“So what should I do if the casualty is a woman?”
“Will I be sued for touching and exposing her chest during the resuscitation process?”
These are questions commonly raised by participants of CPR+AED training courses. And indeed, according to findings from the 2020 “Knowledge, Attitude and Practice survey on CPR+AED” commissioned by the Singapore Heart Foundation and Singapore Civil Defence Force, 6% of respondents quoted “fear of being accused of molestation” as a deterrent to performing CPR on a stranger. Such fear may create a gender gap in life-saving that is unfavourable for cardiac arrest casualties. Their chances of survival drop by 7-10% for every minute they do not receive CPR.
With this in mind, the Singapore Heart Foundation developed the female CPR manikin vest to help community first-responders get accustomed to doing chest compressions around the female breasts and pasting the AED pads with minimal chest exposure.
Made of neoprene material and comes with breast padding, the female CPR manikin vest is the first of its kind in Singapore and fits most manikins in the market. Learners can expect to practice performing CPR+AED skills on the vest when they sign up for our training programmes.
How does administering CPR and AED differ for women as compared to men?
Administering CPR does not differ between men and women, and the steps to take are the same. Compressions administered should be performed the same way for both genders.
Place one of your hands on the lower half of the breastbone and the heel of the other on top of the first hand. Interlace your fingers and lift your palm off the breast to avoid massaging the breasts. Compress at a depth of 4-6cm, 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
To use the AED, cut along the side of the casualty’s shirt, pull up her bra to neck level. Place one electrode pad on the victim’s upper right chest (anterior) under the collarbone, and the other electrode pad on the lower left side (lateral) under the victim’s left breast. Cover her up with her shirt as soon as the AED pads are placed to protect her modesty.
If there are other people around, we can also get them to form a human shield, facing outwards, to block the view of passers-by.
Is the underwire of the bra safe for AED?
So far, there is no local research to show that the underwire of a bra will create an electric short circuit or re-route the electric current. An exposed underwire bra may cause a localised burn on the casualty’s skin, but this is a rare scenario as there is usually fabric around the underwire. During an emergency, the priority should be to provide quality chest compressions and operate the AED in a safe environment (ensure free of water, flammable materials and metallic surfaces).