Rescue Breathing & Ventilation Rates for Adults, Children & Infants

ProTrainings Rescue Breathing & Ventilation Rates for Adults, Children & Infants

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 chest. The oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide moves into the lungs to be exhaled.This process is called ventilation or external respiration. 

On the other hand, the alveoli in the lungs assist in moving  oxygen from the air in the lungs into the circulatory system. This process is called oxygenation. The circulatory system then circulates the oxygen rich blood to the tissues throughout the body.

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.

ProTrainings Rescue Breathing & Ventilation Rates for Adults, Children & Infants

While bag valve masks require additional consideration to maintain a proper seal to the victim’s face, they have their benefits, too. The bag will self-inflate when released, which helps reduce the physical strain on the person providing care and  provides a higher level of oxygen. 

Rescue breathing can be performed with a bag valve mask, faceshield, pocket mask or mouth to mouth (probably reserved only for a loved one due to risk of disease).   All of these methods can quickly tire the person providing CPR, so 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 to ensure body tissues have the needed oxygen for cellular respiration. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) meet every five years to update all CPR guidelines. 

Keep in mind that for a patient to benefit from rescue breathing, they must have an adequate pulse. An adequate pulse for an adult is one that you can feel with two fingers on the neck or wrist, or a heart rate greater than 60 beats per minute for a child or infant. If the pulse is not adequate, then start CPR at 30 compressions for every 2 breaths for an adult or 15 compressions for every 2 breaths for an infant or child.

Here are the most recent 2020 guidelines for rescue breathing and ventilation rates:

For adults. When providing rescue breathing to an adult, 10breaths 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 should 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 is needed due to a child’s smaller lungs and higher metabolism rates. 

For infants. Recent 2020 guideline updates suggest a rate of 20-30 breaths per minute, or one rescue breath every two to three seconds for infants under one-year-old due to the undeveloped nature of the younger lungs, high metabolism, 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.