What Is the CAB vs. ABC of CPR? 

ProTrainings What Is the ABC of CPR?

When a person collapses in public, most bystanders will scan the room in hopes of finding “that person” who knows what to do before stepping in themselves. Whether that person is a doctor, a first responder, or a CPR-certified layperson, the one thing they all have in common in an emergency situation is the knowledge of the ABC of CPR.

Dating back to around the time CPR was invented, this age-old mnemonic has helped countless people remember airway, breathing, and circulation to provide effective CPR. That said, ABC is out of date with current best practices — today, CAB is considered the best practice for performing CPR.

Read on to find out more about the ABC of CPR, who updated the process to CAB, and why this update is so crucial for increasing CPR survival rates. 

Who Created the ABC of CPR? 

The ABC of CPR has been the go-to stand-in to remember to check the victim’s airway, perform rescue breaths, and give chest compressions to help provide life-saving circulation of oxygenated blood, but no one agency or person is credited with its creation. 

One possible outlet that may have contributed to its inception is the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), an international group that meets every five years to review and update CPR best practices based on the most recent research. 

The guidelines are then passed along through the American Heart Association (AHA) to the public in the United States, as was the case when the ABC of CPR was amended to today’s CAB CPR model.

Why the Update From ABC of CPR to CAB of CPR? 

In 2010, the ILCOR reviewed several studies that found that compression-only (also known as hands-only) CPR was more effective than conventional CPR when provided by a layman bystander. In other words, it was shown to increase survivability for cardiac arrest victims. 

This finding was quite a shake-up in the CPR-training world, as it invalidated so many posters and infographics that had long taught the ABC of CPR approach. So, after publishing their findings in 2010, the AHA and ILCOR shifted from the ABC model to the new CAB model that prioritizes reestablishing circulation to save lives with emergency CPR.

Is CAB That Much Better Than the ABC of CPR Model?

In short, yes the CAB approach is much more effective than the ABC approach because it’s been shown to significantly reduce the time it takes to circulate oxygenated blood through a victim’s body. An unconscious person with a reduced amount of oxygen, compared to one with normal respiration, still has enough oxygen in his or her blood to sustain tissue life.

ProTrainings What Is the ABC of CPR?

Tissue death occurs at various speeds depending on the type of tissue involved. One study published by the National Institute of Health found that brain tissue damage can occur in under three minutes when cardiac arrest occurs and respiration is stopped. This urgency underlines the immediate need for chest compressions when providing emergency first aid. 

Following the updated CAB model, meaning chest compressions first, followed by checking the airway and performing rescue breaths, is a key step in improving the survivability of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. 

Stay on Top of CPR Best Practices With ProTrainings

While knowledge is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness, nothing can replace hands-on training when it comes to providing first aid.

When people ask, “What is the ABC of CPR?”, it opens the door for the sharing of knowledge about the importance of properly providing first aid that saves lives. It also shows they might need more updates about the most up-to-date techniques to provide the most effective CPR. 

At ProTrainings, our experienced instructors have experience implementing both the ABC of CPR and the CAB model in real life and in the classroom. Our courses are updated in tandem with ILCOR CPR guidelines, so you can rest assured you’re always getting the most up-to-date training.
Reach out today to learn more about our group and remote-staff CPR certification programs.