Does COVID-19 Change Your Perspective of Emergency First-Aid?


Imagine it is 2019 again. You are enjoying dinner in a local restaurant with friends. Suddenly, you notice another patron on the other side of the room fall to the floor. It is apparent to you that this person is in cardiac arrest. You know exactly what to do. You call for the restaurant’s automated external defibrillator (AED) and keep the man alive until emergency services arrive.

Now, let us take this same scenario and place it in the COVID-19 era. Does COVID-19 change your perspective of emergency first-aid? Are you still willing to jump in and save this person knowing that you could be infected with the virus as a result?

Such questions are uncomfortable to ask. Nonetheless, they are very necessary. We have entered a point in human history at which a fairly large percentage of the world’s population is living in fear of something that remains largely unknown. We have to seriously ask ourselves if we are allowing our fear to lead us to make unwise or irrational decisions.

The Risks of Providing CPR

The fictional scenario presented in this post relies on saving a cardiac victim using an AED alone. That might not be enough. Studies have shown that despite AED use increasing the chances of surviving cardiac arrest, survival rates are even higher when AEDs are combined with CPR.

At any rate, here is the issue: cardiac arrest often leads to the secondary problem of the patient not breathing. A defibrillator is more than capable of jump-starting the heart with a controlled electrical impulse. But this does not guarantee the patient will start breathing again.

CPR plays a role here because it combines chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Herein lies the concern in the COVID-19 era. Would you be willing to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a cardiac arrest victim? Are you willing to take the risk of becoming infected?

A Simple and Easy Solution

None of what you have read thus far is intended to imply that you would not do the right thing. It is also not intended to suggest that fear of COVID-19 will ultimately lead to more people dying from cardiac arrest. Rather, the goal here is to point out a very simple and easy solution. That solution is the resuscitation face shield.

A resuscitation face shield is essentially a piece of plastic that prevents direct contact between patient and first-aid provider. By placing the shield over the patient’s face, you can then provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation without either one of you risking contact with the other.

You might be pleased to learn that AED and resuscitation equipment is often sold together. In addition, face shields can be purchased with replaceable filters. In the year of COVID-19, it seems obvious that filters would be non-negotiable. Any investment in the shields would not make sense without also investing in the filters that go with them.

What It Means to Property Owners

First-aid is not just a concern of victims and first-aid providers. It is also a concern for property owners. Public safety is a community issue, suggesting that property owners take whatever proactive steps they can to address first-aid concerns. This includes having an AED on site.

AEDs are very affordable. Property owners can buy them online or at local healthcare supply outlets. The same goes for resuscitation face shields. More importantly, property owners should be investing in these types of things. Why? Because AEDs save thousands of lives each and every year.

Cardiac arrest is a critical medical emergency that occurs when the heart stops. Every minute counts in a cardiac arrest scenario. Every minute the heart does not beat, more tissue dies for lack of blood and oxygen. It only takes a couple of minutes for cardiac arrest to lead to permanent injury. A few minutes more and death is highly likely.

AEDs Are Easy to Use

Property owners need not worry that AEDs are too complicated for untrained bystanders to use. They are not. In fact, these devices have been designed specifically with the untrained in mind. An AED is an automated device that comes with complete instructions. Anyone who can follow simple diagrams and written text can use an AED to save a life.

Emergency first-aid should really not be an issue even in the midst of something like COVID-19. Catching the coronavirus does not necessarily sentence someone to death. Nor does cardiac arrest. But a cardiac arrest victim can die within minutes of onset. Thus, it is well worth the risk to provide emergency first-aid even though it is possible to catch coronavirus.

What do you think? Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your perspective of emergency first-aid? Here’s hoping you would be willing to provide first-aid regardless of your own risks. In certain kinds of emergencies, first-aid is often the difference between life and death.