Is it safe to perform CPR on a cardiac arrest victim during the COVID-19 pandemic?

With COVID-19 being highly contagious, many may question the safety of performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on cardiac arrest victims. To address this concern, the Singapore Resuscitation and First Aid Council (SRFAC) has recently issued an advisory on the safety precautions to take when performing CPR during this sensitive period.

  • Bystanders who are skilled, willing and able to assist in an emergency, are encouraged to step forward to provide first aid, CPR and/or use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to improve the casualties’ recovery or chances of survival.
  • Always call 995 for Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulance in an emergency. The dispatcher will guide you over the phone to perform first aid, CPR and/or use an AED on the casualty.
  • Bystanders should take the following personal safety precautions when rendering aid to others:
    • Wear a mask while rendering aid in an emergency.
    • Those with immediate access to gloves should wear them before attempting first aid, CPR and/or use an AED.
    • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water; or use hand sanitisers to clean their hands as soon as possible after the casualty has been handed over to SCDF.
  • For adults in cardiac arrest, high quality continuous chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth ventilations can save lives.
  • Paediatric cardiac arrests are more often due to respiratory conditions. For infants and children who are in cardiac arrest, in addition to chest compression, CPR with ventilations should be performed if bystanders are skilled, willing and able. If they are unable or unwilling to provide mouth-to-mouth ventilation, they are encouraged to perform at least good quality chest compressions.
  • Those who feel unwell after the incident must consult a medical practitioner immediately for further assessment.
  • To aid in contact tracing efforts if the need arises, the rescuer is advised to note down the date, time and location of the emergency as well as the ambulance license number or the three digits on the side of the ambulance.

You have the power to save a life. Every minute counts when a casualty suffers from a sudden cardiac arrest. However, we hope you stay well and healthy by following the above guidelines. Together, we can be a nation of lifesavers.

Advisory issued by Prof Lim Swee Han, Chairman of Singapore Resuscitation and First Aid Council (SRFAC).

Find out about COVID-19 and Cardiovascular Disease