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.
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: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation.htm
The change is temporary and the mandatory requirement for rescue breaths will be reinstated when it is safe to do so.
As always we will protect our clients as best we can, the full schedule of face-to-face COVID safe courses can be found here: