Many observational studies world wide, have shown mixed results regarding out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) outcomes during the covid-19 pandemic.
One study released by Ambulance Victoria showed the survival to discharge from hospital rate fell by 50%.
Many possible reasons for this have been cited including emergency and health services being overwhelmed and the quality of CPR being administered by bystanders.
At the beginning of the pandemic public first aid training came to a standstill but needed to resume with what is called “reasonable adjustments”.
This meant classes were conducted with social distancing between learners and minimised movement around the training venue which, of course, did not allow realistic scenarios as the learner would have to be the injured person and perform first aid on themselves.
CPR could only be performed on manikins which needed to be sanitised before and after use by each learner. That meant seamless changeover of operators was not possible.
Needless to say, ventilating the manikin by mouth to mouth was not permitted.
As more information was becoming available the Australian Resuscitation Council was continually reviewing and in 2022 assessed the risk of contracting an illness from performing effective CPR was reduced to pre pandemic levels due, in part, to the high levels of vaccination.
On 30th May 2022 the ARC requested the Australian Industry and Skills Committee that all reasonable adjustments be removed.
This took effect on 1st September 2022 so all First Aid and CPR training and assessing is conducted as it was before the pandemic and learners must demonstrate they can ventilate a mannikin mouth to mouth and first aid skills are demonstrated on another person to maintain the integrity of the competency.
Obviously there will be increased use of sanitisers and cleaning products as well as more frequent changing of lung bags and filters in mannikins.
Hygiene and cleaning of training equipment has long been a major necessity in first aid and has been taken to the next level in recent years.
Now that effective CPR is being emphasised, hopefully, we do see a vast improvement in survival rates.