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What Alert Level 1 Means For Resuscitation

As New Zealand moves down alert levels, more and more aspects of life are returning toward normal, including our approach to resuscitation and first aid training.

There is currently no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand. It is important that learners and those that respond to cardiac arrest understand that providing early defibrillation and a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths gives the best chance of survival to someone in cardiac arrest.

Healthcare and workplace settings vary considerably and it remains vital that local policy makers continually risk assess their setting and that protocols continue to comply with the local District Health Board, regional, and national infection control requirements and reflect the estimated risk.

The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) treatment recommendations for resuscitation during the COVID-19 pandemic seek to balance the potential risk of infection transmission to the rescuer against the harm to the patient if resuscitation is delayed or withheld. In most settings in New Zealand the risk to rescuers is currently extremely low and the balance strongly favours early intervention. It is wrong to treat all patients as if they may have COVID-19. It is important not to inappropriately delay or withhold resuscitation for patients in cardiac arrest if resuscitation is indicated. The level of potential risk to a rescuer may change should there be renewed evidence of regional patterns of disease transmission.

Over the coming months we anticipate there will be more studies to identify the immediate and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare sector, and also outcomes of Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests (OHCA) during this period. There is a real risk that the COVID-19 pandemic could undo the substantial progress that has been made in optimising the community response to OHCA.

The NZ Resuscitation Council will continue to monitor the situation and update our recommendations on our website.

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