Teaching Rescue Breaths During the Pandemic

Rescue Breaths Moratorium Update

November 2022

Back in February 2021, Qualsafe informed Centres that in response to the increased prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and the increased transmission of new variants, the First Aid Quality Partnership (FAQP), First Aid Awarding Organisation Forum (FAAOF) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) supported the position of Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) in that practical demonstration of rescue breaths may be omitted from adult based first aid training courses, as a precautionary measure while COVID-19 transmission rates remained high.

Throughout the pandemic, RCUK has regularly reviewed its guidance based on published evidence, seeking to balance the delivery of high-quality treatment to casualties whilst maintaining staff/rescuer safety.

Airway management manoeuvres

In August 2022, the RCUK updated their guidance in relation to CPR and COVID-19. Recently published evidence suggests that COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted via the aerosol route as opposed to direct contact and via fomites.

New evidence has emerged suggesting a low likelihood that airway management manoeuvres are aerosol generating, leading to the removal of airway management manoeuvres from the list of aerosol generating procedures (AGP). The risk associated with COVID-19 has also decreased because the majority of the population have been immunised, and more effective treatments and less virulent strains now predominate.

In supporting the decision of the RCUK, the FAAOF have now agreed to remove the temporary rescue breath moratorium in place since 2021.

This means that any first aid courses starting on or after 1st November 2022 MUST return to teaching and assessing rescue breaths during the delivery of CPR training. Any learner not willing to demonstrate rescue breaths won’t be able to gain the regulated certificate.

We strongly recommend revisiting our existing guidance on manikin hygiene found here: https://www.qualsafe.com/PDFs/QA%20COVID-19%20Manikin%20Hygiene%20Info%20V2.pdf

You can also view the following FAQP statement related to training during the pandemic here: https://faaof.org/statement-relating-to-training-during-the-pandemic/

Given we are moving towards the winter season and the impact of all winter viruses remaining largely unknown, we will keep a close eye on the risk to benefit ratio related to rescue breaths. If necessary, Qualsafe will recommend to the wider first aid industry that further restrictions or omissions be introduced.