New European Resuscitation Council guidelines

People on a first aid course practice giving chest compressions (CPR)

New guidelines were released by the European Resuscitation Council in October 2015; since then we've been making relevant changes to our courses and materials to ensure we adopt the latest scientific research.

The guidelines haven't changed processes significantly, but more emphasis has been placed on certain aspects such as:

  • the importance of early intervention in an emergency
  • ensuring that first aid steps are easy to remember, so that people do something in a first aid emergency.

We welcome the updated guidelines as they reinforce what we have been doing for a number of years, and endorse our approach to our first aid courses.

The key points you need to know

'Unconscious' to 'unresponsive'

The term 'unconscious' has changed to 'unresponsive', which is more descriptive and easier to interpret and understand

First aiders don't have to worry about what being 'conscious' means; they just need to know whether the casualty is responding normally or not.

Assessing the casualty

Previously people may remember being taught a step-by-step approach to assessing a casualty.

Although all these steps are still vital, the guidelines stress the importance of following the steps simultaneously and quickly, with minimal interruptions. 

When assessing a casualty, the key steps to follow are:

  • ensuring the scene is safe
  • checking for a response from the casualty
  • opening the airway and checking for breathing.

Role of the emergency medical dispatcher

The new guidelines highlight the role of the emergency medical dispatcher (the person you speak to when you dial 999) in supporting a first aider in an emergency situation.

It's important that the first aider stays with a casualty when calling for help and (if able) puts the phone on speaker, to facilitate continual communication with the emergency medical dispatcher.

The 'chain of survival'

A casualty who is unresponsive and not breathing stands a greater chance of survival if a series of events happen quickly, without delay.

This series of events is known as the 'chain of survival', which is made up of four elements:

  • early help such as calling 999
  • early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • early defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • early after care when the emergency services take over.

If any of the elements are missing or delayed, the casualty's chance of survival reduces.

The new guidelines place more emphasis on early intervention in an emergency, and the importance of speed when completing these vital steps.

How we've responded to the changes

We've reviewed our workplace first aid training courses to ensure they feature the latest scientific research.

All our courses and training materials reflect the new guidance, which is all part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that the training and customer service you receive meet the highest standards.

Find out more about the Resuscitation Council guidelines

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