‘Learn CPR right now’ urge Resuscitation Council UK, highlighting updated CPR guidance for COVID-19

London, UK. ‘CPR shouldn’t be something to fear’, says CPR rescuer Peter Costello, who used his skills in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save a stranger’s life in 2019.

With CPR charity Resuscitation Council UK, he is encouraging the public to give people their best chance of survival by learning skills in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) right now, citing recent studies that show how fewer people have performed bystander CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic.1 

Peter’s own experience of CPR happened in June 2019 at a conference at the University of Strathclyde. Marc, a delegate from Holland, became unconscious at the event, and Peter sprang into action, remembering the CPR training he did in 2015.

”Me and another chap started resuscitation,” he explained. “Then I remembered the AED that was at reception. I got the other man to take over CPR and ran and got the AED. I listened to the instructions from the machine, which are very clear and concise, pushed the button, and after one hit, his eyes opened.”

Without Peter’s immediate action, Marc would not have survived. 

“The paramedics explained that by the time they got there it would’ve been too late.

“What made me happiest is that I knew this gentleman had the chance to speak to his family again.” 

He now wants others to follow in his footsteps, learn CPR right now, and act with the urgency that is needed when a person is in cardiac arrest, which means they’ve collapsed and are not breathing normally.

“Even if you learn once in your life, it will stay with you. Anyone, even if they don’t know if they’ll use it, should learn CPR and how to use an AED.

“The situation across the world at the moment shouldn’t change anything. People are still having cardiac arrests and so we still need to act quickly to give them a chance of survival.”

To support people learning and performing CPR during COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK has created an animation that shows the simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission while performing CPR. 

The animation advises viewers not to perform mouth-to-mouth at this time, and to instead focus on chest compressions. It also advises placing a piece of cloth or a towel loosely over the victim’s mouth and nose to reduce the risk of transmission. 

Resuscitation Council UK’s Vice President, Dr Andrew Lockey, said: 

“Cardiac arrest is, and has been for many years, an issue in the UK - and currently only 1 in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest. 

“The guidance provided in the animation shows how we can continue to perform CPR in an emergency, but it also shows how we can be mindful of COVID-19 and make CPR safer for both the bystander and the person in cardiac arrest. 

“Learning CPR and using those skills in an emergency is the only way we will improve the survival rate for out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK – that’s why we must keep working to this goal, even during COVID-19.” 

The animation video is available with English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish accent versions. 

To watch Resuscitation Council UK’s new animation, visit: resus.org.uk/watch.


Notes to editor: 

If you are interested in speaking to Peter Costello, please get in touch with Resuscitation Council UK’s press contact (details below).

Press contact: Chloe Gynne, Communications Officer, Resuscitation Council UK.

Tel: 020 8078 3228 Email: chloe.gynne@resus.org.uk 

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, and causes a person to collapse and stop breathing normally. Survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest remain stubbornly low in the UK, with fewer than one in ten people surviving. If CPR were more widely taught, thousands of lives could be saved every year. (Resuscitation to Recovery

Around 80% of cardiac arrests happen in the home. As people are spending more time at home during COVID-19, that statistic may be higher at the moment. Learning CPR guarantees that you have the skills to help those around you, including in the home. 

RCUK’s amended COVID-19 bystander CPR guidance is based on the best available evidence and clinical advice and has sought to balance maximising the chances of survival with rescuer safety. To learn more about why we have updated our guidance, please read our statement

About Resuscitation Council UK 

Resuscitation Council UK is saving lives by developing guidelines, influencing policy, delivering courses and supporting cutting-edge research. Through education, training and research, we’re working towards the day when everyone in the country has the skills they need to save a life. 

Throughout the pandemic, the healthcare charity has been publishing guidance that helps healthcare professionals and members of the public continue to perform CPR safely during COVID-19.  

For more information, visit resus.org.uk.

  1. Marijon, E., Karam, N., Jost, D., Perrot, D., Frattini, B., Derkenne., et al. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest during the COVID-19 pandemic in Paris, France: a population-based, observational study https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(20)30117-1/fulltext  
  2. Resuscitation to Recovery,