Few bodily functions are as important to a person’s overall well-being as the one that supplies oxygen-rich air for the circulatory system: breathing. But what happens when a person is unable to breathe effectively in an emergency? That’s where CPR and rescue breathing come into play.
While CPR training mostly brings chest compressions to mind, rescue breathing is another essential tool in providing critical care. Knowing the seven easy steps for CPR — including correct rescue breathing and ventilation rates — can make all the difference to a victim’s chances of survival.
Read on to learn more about rescue breathing and ventilation rates for adults, children, and infants.
Ventilation vs. Oxygenation
Breathing is often over simplified to a single action in which air is brought in and out of the body to sustain life. While this does get the idea across, there are actually distinct different processes underway when this exchange of gasses is happening.
When a person breathes in, oxygen-rich air is being drawn in by the rapid expansion of the lungs. The lungs then collapse, forcing the carbon dioxide air that has already passed along its oxygen. This process is called ventilation.
On the other hand, the lungs are responsible for removing oxygen from the air through the alveoli in the lungs and transporting it to the tissues. This process is called oxygenation.
Bag Valve Masks vs. Rescue Breathing
A bag valve mask is an alternative to providing rescue breaths from another person’s lungs and mouth to help provide airflow into a victim’s lungs. They’re generally used by health care professionals as they do require additional training and are often used along with advanced airway techniques to ensure proper gas exchange.
While bag valve masks require additional consideration to maintain a proper seal to the victim’s face, they have their benefits, too. The mask will self-inflate when released, which helps reduce the physical strain on the person providing care. This allows a single person to provide ventilation for a victim for longer periods compared to rescue breathing.
Rescue breathing can be performed either mouth to mouth or mouth to pocket seal. This method can quickly tire the person providing CPR. It’s recommended to have another person available to step in if needed.
Rescue Breathing & Ventilation Rates
As the oxygenation process is underway, it’s important that suitable levels of oxygen remain in the blood. This helps avoid the build up of toxic carbon dioxide that can quickly lead to tissue death. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) meet every five years to update all CPR guidelines.
Here are the most recent guidelines for rescue breathing and ventilation rates:
For adults. When providing rescue breathing to an adult, 10 to 12 breaths per minute is ideal. Adults have the slowest rates for rescue breaths and ventilation to sustain suitable oxygenation in the body — primarily due to the overall volume of lung size, as well as the fully developed alveoli and other lung features that help process the gaseous exchange.
For children. Children older than one year and over 25 pounds should ideally receive a breath every two or three seconds to maintain a rate of 20 to 30 breaths per minute. This high rate of rescue breaths may require two people to alternate performing CPR, if possible.
For infants. Recent 2020 guideline updates suggest a constant rate of 30 breaths per minute, or one rescue breath every two seconds for infants under one year old or 25 pounds, due to the undeveloped nature of the younger lungs and smaller lung volume.
When it comes to rescue breathing rates, it’s essential to know the rates needed for effective respiration in adults, children, and infants. Likewise, your ability to observe a person’s respiratory status and be aware of tools such as bag valve masks and how to use them as a suitable stand-in for rescue breathing can be the difference needed to save a life.
Contact us today to learn more about how ProTrainings can help you make getting your staff CPR certified easier and more efficient.