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British Heart Foundation Hands-only CPR video

January 2012

vinnie jones hands-only cpr video

This month has seen the introduction of several advertisements from the British Heart Foundation about performing Hands-Only Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The adverts feature on-screen hard-man Vinnie Jones and follow him as he performs life-saving Hands-Only CPR.

To view the full advertisement, please use this link.

Hands-Only CPR is the act of only performing chest compressions on a casualty rather than also giving rescue breaths. The BHF are advising anyone who is untrained in CPR to now focus on pushing hard and fast in the centre of the chest to the beat of The Bee Gees hit track Stayin’ Alive.

The campaign comes as a result of research carried out by the BHF which shows that many untrained people are afraid of giving rescue breaths to a casualty and consequently would not attempt CPR at all, if the situation arose. 

Ellen Mason from the BHF said "The kiss of life can often be daunting for untrained bystanders who want to help when someone has collapsed with a cardiac arrest”.

However, it is important to remember that also giving rescue breaths remains the "gold standard" of CPR and that anyone who is trained and confident in performing CPR should continue to follow the guidance of giving chest compressions AND rescue breaths, at a ratio of 30 to 2.

First on Scene gives the following advice on the new campaign:

Hands only CPR
The advertisements are aimed at people who are untrained (e.g. those who have never done a first aid course, those who haven’t attended training in a long time, or those who simply can’t remember their training). The theory behind Hands-Only CPR is that if an ADULT casualty has a cardiac arrest outside hospital, it’s usually a heart problem (e.g. heart attack) that has caused it. In that scenario, the blood is usually full of oxygen at the time that the heart stops, so the immediate need is not to give breaths, but to pump the blood around (circulating the oxygen that is already there). In cardiac arrest the body uses up much less oxygen, so some studies have shown that the body can last for up to 5 minutes on the oxygen left in the blood if it is pumped around. There is an added benefit that it’s very easy to learn and you won’t be put off by having to “kiss” them, so more people will attempt it, and it’s much, much better than doing nothing at all.

There are a couple of limitations to Hands-Only CPR however:

1) If the cause of the cardiac arrest is NOT a heart problem (e.g. drowning) or if the casualty is a CHILD, then it’s likely that there is a huge lack of oxygen in the blood by the time the heart stops, so this time the casualty will be desperate for some rescue breaths. In children, the likely cause will be something to do with breathing, such as an asthma attack or choking.

2) Ambulances often take longer than 5 minutes to arrive (75% should get to the casualty’s side within around 10 minutes, 25% take longer).

For those reasons, the gold standard, which we teach on first aid courses, is to give chest compressions AND rescue breaths, at a ratio of 30 to 2. We do know however that it’s vital to give as many chest compressions as possible, with minimum gaps to give the 2 breaths. For that reason, if someone is untrained, they are probably better off giving hands only CPR.

Agonal Gasps
If you watch the full version of the advert on YouTube or on the British Heart Foundation’s Website, you will see that the casualty takes a “gasp”, but Vinnie Jones still starts CPR. That’s because in 40% of cardiac arrest victims, when the heart stops, the brain still tries to take a few gasps of air. It can try this for a few minutes sometimes. This is definitely NOT what we would call “NORMAL BREATHING” however, and they are a positive sign that the casualty’s heart has stopped. So if you have someone who is unconscious and NOT BREATHING NORMALLY, you should call 999 and start CPR straight away.

The Pulse
Feeling for a pulse is very difficult and very unreliable in the panicky situation of trying to work out if someone needs CPR. For this reason you should not try to feel for a pulse – as per our first aid book: check response, shout for help, open the airway and check breathing. If the casualty is unresponsive and not breathing normally you should START CPR. Push hard and push fast in the middle of the chest, then if trained, give rescue breaths at a ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling 0845 5191 999 or emailing

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