COVID-19: HSE advice on performing CPR cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the community

HSE Media Release: 13 May 2020

                                                                                               recommends early use of a defibrillator

                                                                                                    advises against mouth to mouth 

The public and particularly those familiar with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) play a key role in our communities in responding to people who collapse in public spaces, and in many instances save lives.

 In the light of the current pandemic and the possibility that the person who has collapsed may have COVID-19, there is an element of risk associated so we have to manage CPR in a new way. A person whose heart has stopped is unlikely to survive if CPR is not administered before the arrival of the ambulance service. 

 It is a personal choice if you decide to give CPR.

Here is the most up to date advice to minimise risk and improve safety for all involved:

1. At all times keep your hands away from your face.

2. If a person has collapsed in a public space, do look for signs of breathing and signs of life.

3. Don’t listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth.

4. Dial 112 or 999 and ask for an ambulance. If COVID-19 is suspected, tell them when you call.

5. Use an AED as soon as possible. This significantly increases the person’s chances of survival. Place the AED pads on the person’s chest and apply a shock, if prompted by the AED. This is a safe procedure and should be attempted by a first responder.

6. Perform chest compressions only. Do not give mouth to mouth rescue breaths. If there is a perceived risk of infection, you should place a cloth/towel over the person’s mouth and nose and attempt compression-only CPR and early defibrillation until help arrives.

7. Afterwards, clean your hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Clean and disinfect the AED if used.

Speaking about this advice, Prof Martin Cormican, National Lead for Infection Control and Antimicrobial Resistance, says:

“For many people who were willing to carry out CPR it is now more difficult to know what to do because of COVID-19. We understand that this decision is very personal. Our advice sets out seven practical steps to reduce the risk while performing CPR, which also gives the person who has collapsed the best chance of survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember to ring 112/999 and ask for the ambulance service for any medical emergency”. 

Link to guidance on Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for lay rescuers in the context of COVID-19:


Last updated on: 13 / 05 / 2020