First-aid debate over whether the ‘kiss of life’ is right or wrong

British Heart Foundation explains the aim of its new advertising campaign after fears it could give the wrong message



First aid is a vital skill every parent should have. You never know when you may need to treat a wound or burn, help a child who’s choking or even resuscitate a baby or child who’s not breathing. But of course, not every parent has first aid skills.

In its new TV advert, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) aims to give confidence to those with absolutely no first aid training – particularly those who might be put off trying to help because they don’t know how to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The BHF advert stars ex-footballer and actor Vinnie Jones and recommends using hands-only CPR in cases of cardiac arrest. The charity has been criticised by a first aid group, First Aid for Life, claiming the ad suggests the “kiss of life” is unnecessary.

“Hands-on CPR is only helpful if the person has had a cardiac arrest following a heart problem as they will still have residual oxygenated blood in their system,” says a statement from First Aid For Life. “If it is a child or someone who has drowned they need rescue breaths alongside the compressions to re-oxygenate their blood.”

When MadeForMums raised this with the BHF, we were told that the aim of the advert wasn’t to say don’t use mouth-to-mouth (or rescue breaths as it’s officially called) but if you’re nervous about giving rescue breaths, chest compressions may still save a life.

“Rescue breaths are the gold standard,” said BHF press officer Rosa Pilcher. “But the advert is designed to encourage people with no training whatsoever to do chest compressions; people who might otherwise be put off and stand back.”

A BHF poll showed that nearly 50% of people are put off helping in a situation requiring CPR because of a lack of knowledge. People are also sometimes worried about the ‘intimacy’ of giving someone mouth-to-mouth and the hygiene aspects.

“Hands-only CPR should give lots of people the confidence and know-how to help save someone in cardiac arrest, the ultimate medical emergency,” Ellen Mason, a senior BHF nurse sums up. “By giving someone hard, fast and uninterrupted chest compressions, this can be more effective than stopping regularly in order to give ineffective rescue breaths.”

The key is clearly to be confident about these fairly simple first aid skills. To find your nearest class, take a look in your local MFM neighbourhood.

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