European Resuscitation Guidelines 2015

Posted by Steve at 12:40 on Friday, 16th October 2015.

Do you ever think

‘What’s the rate of compressions to rescue breaths?’


‘Will I remember the rates I was taught in a real emergency?’

Well you are not alone!!!

Yesterday the Resuscitation Councils of Europe and the United Kingdom have released the 2015 update to their Resuscitation Guidelines. This statement alone sends shivers down the spine of a lot of people, mainly because it implies what you have already learnt on first aid courses is now out of date. NEVER fear for the information you have learnt is not wrong and doesn’t just become ineffective because new guidelines have been published. As a first aider you should continue to use the skills that you have been taught until your next refresher course.

The last revision of standards was in 2010, and since that time the European Resuscitation Council and all member councils have been looking at the latest science and research to better improve their guidelines, hence the publication of the Guidelines 2015.

In their official Press Release, Professor Castren, Chair of the European Resuscitation Council concluded,

We could save 100,000 extra lives per year in Europe, if all lay and professional people who care about optimising resuscitation get trained properly then and implement their knowledge skills.

Just think about that claim for 1 second, 100,000 extra lives could be saved in Europe just by lay and professional people being trained and implementing what they have been taught. When you consider that every year in the United Kingdom approximately 150,000 people die because first aid isn’t known widely enough, I wonder how low this statistic could be by the time of the next revision of the Resuscitation Guidelines.

So, I hear you cry, what has actually changed?

In honesty very little has actually changed, but there are a few subtle differences.

Automated External Defibrillator Use

This is probably the biggest emphasis change in these Guidelines. The ERC Guidelines highlight the important use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and the emphasis is that there should not be any delay in starting the use of the AED, where there is one available and the first aider has identified that the casualty is not responding nor breathing normally.

Paediatric Rescue Breaths

The 2015 Guidelines have tightened the link between the adult Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation process and that of the paediatric casualties.

The Guidelines state that a rescue breath being administered to a paediatric casualty should take no more than 1 second to give, as is the case with adult casualties.

Location of hands when performing chest compressions (Paediatric)

The Guidelines have strengthened the position of the hand when carrying out the key task of chest compressions to save a child’s life. They state the lower sternum should be depressed by one third the anterior-posterior diameter of the chest, or in lay man’s terms, 4cm for the baby’s chest and 5cm of that of a child’s chest.)

When to contact emergency services (Paediatric)

In the 2015 revision of the Guidelines, it states that if a first aider is on their own with a paediatric casualty, they should complete a one minute cycle of CPR before calling for the emergency services, in previous guidelines this was suggested. 2015 has tightened up this requirement.

The role of the Emergency despatcher (operator)

The ERC Guidelines highlight explicitly the relationship between the despatcher of emergency help (operator) and that of the person giving the aid to the casualty

They also highlight the interaction between the first aider, despatcher, and the timely deployment of the AED, and points out that this relationship is key to improving survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest.

What does the Paediatric basic life support algorithm show?

The Algorithm for Paediatric Basic Life Support shows the usual DRHAB checks that are taught on all of our first aid courses, it then shows that CPR should be commenced, for one minute prior to calling 999/112. The process on the algorithm shows:

5 rescue breaths - 15 chest compressions - 2 rescue breaths - 15 chest compressions.

Has the speed of compressions changed?

This is a well-known concern and question from worried first aiders who have been under many versions of the European Resuscitation Council Guidelines. The reassuring answer to this question is NO the compressions are still at a rate of 100-120 chest compressions per minute.

As you will know if you have attended my courses in the past, I teach you to compress the chest at the higher level of this (120 per minute) because then as you become more tired you will still be completing the chest compressions within this important rhythm.

Why do we get these changes?

Since the year 2000, researchers from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) have met to consider, discuss and evaluate evidence of resuscitation. The last International Consensus Conference was held in Dallas, Texas, United States in February 2015, and the published recommendations and conclusions are the basis of the European Resuscitation Guidelines 2015.

Who are ILCOR?

ILCOR is made up of representatives of:

American Heart Association(AHA)

The European Resuscitation Council (ERC)

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC)

The Australian and New Zealand Committee of Resuscitation (ANZCOR)

The Resuscitation Council of South Africa (RCSA)

The Inter-American Heart Foundation (IAHF)

The Resuscitation Council of Asia (RCA).

As you can see ILCOR has a wide scope of expertise feeding into their Consensus Conferences. For more information on ILCOR visit their website

For further information on the European Resuscitation Council visit their website, or their 2015 resuscitation dedicated website, Alternatively you can visit the Resuscitation Council (UK) website at

So, to come back to the initial questions that we started this blog with, our advice to you, which is also backed up by the Guidelines is:

Do NOT worry about the number of compressions, the most important thing is:

Do something, rather doing nothing!!

If you do something the casualty has a much better chance of recovery and life than if you do nothing at all.

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