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CPR: Why Shielding First Aiders Needs To Happen Now

Imagine. It’s a few months from now, winter. Cases of CoVID-19 are rising. You’re in a supermarket, out shopping. It’s crowded - so, of course, you’re wearing a face mask - when, suddenly, a lady down the aisle collapses on the floor.

She doesn’t seem to be moving.

Instinctively, you rush over and shout for help. Luckily, a trained first aider is on duty and with you in a flash. It also looks like the lady might not be breathing.

So. What happens next?

The first aider seems hesitant. With CoVID-19 taking hold, the official CPR advice from the Health and Safety Executive in the UK is to “minimise the time you share a breathing zone with the casualty and direct them to do things for you where possible.” Not just that, but they should “use a cloth or towel to cover the patient’s mouth and nose, while still permitting breathing to restart following successful resuscitation.”

This is good advice, but far from straight-forward.

It’s understandable that, during a pandemic, even qualified first aiders will second guess whether to perform CPR. Rescue breaths are not advised, but compressions still release aerosols. There is simply no way of knowing in the moment if a casualty is CoVID positive.

The time spent second-guessing and assessing the risk is also time taken away from potentially lifesaving procedures that encourage oxygen into the lungs.

Hypoxia can lead to permanent brain damage after only 4 minutes. Death can occur as soon as 4 to 6 minutes later. Even if available in a perfect scenario, it takes at least 5 minutes to safely put on the recommended Level 3 PPE.

What chance does the collapsed lady in the supermarket have now?

One of our aims is to get an AerosolShield into every retailer, restaurant, and office. With the ability to deploy in 20 seconds it provides an almost instantaneous physical barrier between a first aider and someone in need. As you can see from our short animation, any infected droplets exhaled during chest compressions are now contained.

Beyond giving our first aider the confidence needed to perform lifesaving CPR and prevent permanent brain damage, using a Shield also has much wider reaching benefits.

Let us take stroke for instance. It’s a devastating disease for patients and their families. In England alone, it is estimated that stroke costs the NHS around £3bn per year, with additional cost to the economy of a further £4bn in lost productivity, disability and informal care. Some of this cost can be alleviated if CPR is performed quickly on a stroke victim with the aim of preventing brain damage.

The benefits of a Shield go further still. What about the people close to the person who has collapsed? Remember in our scenario, you rushed forward to help the lady who collapsed. It’s unlikely you simply walked away and continued your shopping when the first aider arrived. If you removed your mask in the panic, you’re also potentially breathing in infected droplets exhaled during chest compressions.

Anybody with a compromised immune system – such a pregnant woman – would be at even greater risk.

So, the solution seems clear. Something as simple as a Shield can save both lives and help lower the cost of long-term treatment. We want to spread the word. If you’re a first aider, or you know somebody who is, or would a Shield for your company, please get in touch. We’ll be more than happy to talk.


Mat Campbell-Hill is the Lead Designer & Co-Owner of AerosolShield

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