PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In our current situation of wearing masks and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, would you still help a stranger in need of CPR?

The American Heart Association is concerned that some cardiac arrest patients may not get the care they need.

KDKA’s Susan Koeppen talked about CPR during the coronavirus pandemic with Leeanna McKibben, the chief nursing officer at UPMC Mercy and board member of the American Heart Association.

Koeppen: Heart attacks are still happening, strokes are still happening. People still need life-saving CPR. That is not ending.
McKibben: That is correct. Hospitals, not only in our region but across the country, have seen a decrease in the number of heart attacks and strokes that are reporting to our hospitals. So we know that COVID hasn’t stopped that activity from happening. We know that heart attacks are still occurring and the ability to have life-saving CPR is imperative.

According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of cardiac arrests will happen in the home. But what happens if you find a stranger in need?

Koeppen: Someone who might be concerned about giving CPR and rescue breaths, you no longer have to do that, just doing chest compressions is enough.
McKibben: That’s correct. Research shows the life-saving benefit of compressions, really the ability to mimic the beating of the heart, is enough to save lives. It is realistic to think you might be giving compressions on a stranger and it would be appropriate in that case to certainly wear your own mask, as we have all been instructed, but also to potentially mask or provide a small cloth or mask to the person to whom you are delivering compressions.

And don’t forget to call 911.

McKibben: One of the benefits of calling 911 is the 911 operator can also help to guide your CPR activity on the scene.

CPR can double, even triple, a victim’s survival. According to the American Heart Association, most Americans say they don’t know how to perform CPR. Hands-only CPR consists of press hard and fast in the center of the chest, 120 beats per minute and 2 inches deep.

To watch a 90-second video about hands-only CPR, click here.