Teaching Rescue Breaths During the Pandemic


We need to let you know about a statement released today from the First Aid Quality Partnership (FAQP), in agreement with the HSE and Resuscitation Council UK that will impact on how we teach and assess CPR over the next few months.

Please see the statement below, followed by some further details from Qualsafe Awards on how you can document this on assessment papers.

Statement released today from FAQP:

In response to the increased prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and the increased transmission of the new variants, the First Aid Quality Partnership and Health and Safety Executive supports the position of Resuscitation Council UK that practical demonstration of rescue breaths may be omitted from some first aid training courses, as a precautionary measure while COVID transmission rates remain high.


  • If a Training Provider, a Trainer, a Learner or an Employer is concerned about the removal of a face covering in order to demonstrate rescue breaths, the learner(s) may demonstrate chest compressions only for adult resuscitation. This will not affect the validity or duration of certification, however attendance on annual refresher training is strongly recommended


  • There is good evidence that rescue breaths form an essential part of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation particularly in children, infants and those who have drowned. The benefits of teaching rescue breaths to those who have a duty to provide first aid to these groups far outweighs the extremely small theoretical risk of transmission in the classroom whilst practising this skill. For this reason, rescue breaths should continue to be taught on paediatric first aid courses, lifeguard training, and with other groups such as emergency service workers


  • The above recommendation is temporary and will be reviewed on a regular basis. As the roll out of vaccines continues to grow at a pace and the current peak subsides we intend to reintroduce the mandatory practising, performance and assessment of rescue breaths in the classroom once the prevalence in society subsides. We will issue further notifications when reviews take place

Further information from Qualsafe Awards:

The Qualsafe team fully understand that this statement from FAQP will generate mixed opinions from Centres. Our understanding is that this does not mean that you must stop teaching rescue breaths, but it does give you the option to temporarily do so at a Centre level if you wish.

We understand that HSE will be issuing a bulletin on the matter at some point and we will inform you as soon as we know more about this.

How to Adapt Training, Assessments and Paperwork:

If a specific Learner or the entire course performs chest compression only CPR when being assessed demonstrating competency in adult resuscitation, the following examples should be used to annotate the practical assessment paperwork with any reference to rescue breaths:

If all other pass criteria have been met, the Learner will still receive a pass for that particular assessment.

In these cases, the Learner(s) should demonstrate continuous chest compressions without pausing for rescue breaths. Rescue breaths must still be demonstrated by the trainer or shown by video (videos are provided in the ‘downloads’ section of the Qualsafe Awards Portal).

Rescue breaths must still be taught and assessed in CPR for Children and Babies.

Further Important Information:

During periods when the prevalence of COVID-19 is high or very high, we continue to recommend that Learners and Trainers wear face masks even when seated/distanced.

HSE have also produced guidance on room ventilation that you should follow in order to protect against the risk of aerosolised virus. This can be found here.

Please also ensure you are following our existing guidance on what precautions should be taken before and during a course: