One-minute training sessions on how to do hands-only CPR delivered via kiosks placed in shopping malls, airports and other public places could save lives. This was the finding of new research presented at an American Heart Association (AHA) Resuscitation Science Symposium held in Dallas, TX, over the weekend.

A team from the University of Arizona came to this conclusion after carrying out a short study based around an AHA Hands-Only CPR training kiosk that was installed at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport earlier this year.

Hands-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) does not require giving the kiss of life, which can put some people off who might otherwise be prepared to try resuscitation.

If ambulances come quickly, experts believe that instructing people to just “push hard, push fast” saves more lives. That is the idea behind the new guidelines released by the AHA in 2010 that permit the use of simpler hand-only or compression-only CPR in some cases instead of conventional CPR.

However, hands-only CPR may not be the best approach for rural or remote areas where the waiting time is more than a few minutes for an ambulance.

When you touch the video screen on the DFW kiosk, it plays a brief introduction to the steps of the Hands-Only CPR, then you have a short practice on a dummy and a 30-second CPR test. The kiosk tells you how well you carried out the CPR – the depth and rate of your compressions and whether you placed your hands correctly.

For the study, the team recruited just under 100 people with no previous training or experience of CPR and divided them into two groups. One group went through the 1-minute CPR training, while the other group just sat and did nothing for 1 minute.

Then the participants were taken to a private area, presented with a mannequin simulating a sudden collapse, and asked to do “what they thought best.”

The researchers found that the participants who saw the CPR video and did the kiosk training were more likely to call 911, started chest compressions sooner, had an increased chest compression rate and a decreased hands-off interval.

Study leader Dr. Ashish Panchal, a researcher in emergency medicine, says:

Given the short length of training, these findings suggest that ultra-brief video training may have potential as a universal intervention for public venues to help bystander reaction and improve CPR skills.”

When the kiosk was installed at DFW Airport, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, Dr. Ahamed Idris, who is also professor of Surgery and Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said, “we’d love to see other high-traffic places do the same so more people can learn this lifesaving skill,” and urged:

“Every American should know the simple steps of Hands-Only CPR.”

The AHA’s Hands-Only CPR is based on two steps:

  1. Call 911
  2. Push hard and fast at the center of the chest.

On the Hands-Only CPR website, where you can see the video, the AHA says:

“If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival, and ‘Stayin’ Alive’ has the right beat for Hands-Only CPR.”

The Bee Gees’ song is also at the heart of a UK campaign to promote hands-only CPR.