Red Cross suspends mouth-to-mouth resuscitation over COVID-19

The Nigerian Red Cross Society, Lagos State branch, says it has warned members against engaging in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in emergency cases.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, a form of artificial ventilation, is the act of assisting or stimulating respiration in which a rescuer presses his mouth against that of the victim and blows air into the person’s lungs.

The humanitarian body disclosed that the first aid treatment was suspended after the outbreak of COVID-19 to save responders from getting infected and to curb the spread of the virus.

In an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Lagos training director, Ige Oladimeji explained that the Red Cross Society takes the safety of its responders seriously, especially when attending to an emergency.

“Before the outbreak of COVID-19, it was important for you to place an ear at the nostrils. You want to listen to the breathing sound, feel the warm air coming out of the nostrils and watch the rise and fall of the chest level to know if the casualty is still breathing.

“But we had to adjust our resuscitation exercise a bit. Now, you don’t need to move closer to check if somebody is breathing or not. We just observe them from a distance. If there is a breath, you then know what to do. If there is no breath, you know it is an emergency. One can then call 767 or 112,” he said.

Ige stressed that while the ambulance is still on the way, each responder has warned not to even give chest compression without putting on your disposable safety gloves.

“As earlier said, safety is key. If possible, one is allowed to cover the mouth of the casualty while attending to him. You can also do that at a distance while your face mask is in place.

“We have suspended the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. We are adapting to the new normal,” he said.

He also emphasised that the society had no documented record of any volunteer responder testing positive for COVID-19.

When called on the phone, NRCS Lagos branch secretary, Olakunle Lasisi confirmed the claim, reiterating that no responder is allowed to engage in any form of mouth resuscitation exercise as part of first aid.

“In truth, Red Cross members are trained to think more of the community than themselves. When Nigeria recorded its index COVID-19 case, we had training in partnership with Lagos State Ministry of Health on prevention and spread of the virus here in Lagos,” he said.

He disclosed that shortly after the training, about 200 volunteers were dispatched to different communities at the grassroots level for social mobilization.

Continuing, Lasisi noted that the team went from street to street educating people in schools, churches and market places on the danger of COVID-19, use of face masks and the need for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.

He identified the areas of coverage as Makoko, Sari-Iganmu, Orile, Ijora and Ajegunle communities.

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