A CPR shield is a medical device used to protect a rescuer providing CPR to a patient. This one-way device allows the rescuer to perform rescue breathing on a patient through a barrier, preventing bacteria or bodily fluids, such as blood, from entering the rescuer's mouth. CPR shields are often available as a part of a CPR kit, but can also be purchased individually from many suppliers.
CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a rescue technique used for victims who are not breathing or have lost vital signs. It is performed differently on infants, children, and adults, and thus requires training in order to provide safe and effective care in case of an emergency. The basic technique for most CPR methods involve blowing air into the mouth of the victim and pumping the chest or upper abdomen in an attempt to start breathing. Because of this technique, a CPR rescuer is required to place his or her mouth over the mouth of the victim in order to ensure that air reaches the lungs.
Using a CPR shield allows some measure for protection for the person giving CPR. If the victim is not breathing due to an accident or severe injury, blood may be present on or inside the mouth, which can expose rescuers to potential illnesses from blood-borne diseases. Giving bare mouth-to-mouth can also expose the rescuer to bacterial infections and viruses. In order to avoid the possibility of contracting any illness, some experts believe it is wise to use safety devices such as a CPR shield.
Most CPR shield devices consist of a thin layer of plastic or synthetic material with a one-way valve. The plastic will stick to the victim's mouth, creating a seal to ensure that air enters the airways. The valve allows the rescuer to give breath, but not receive the air or carbon dioxide expelled by the victim. Shields come in several sizes and can be quite compact, some even fold into small pouches that can be attached to belts or key rings for safety personnel.
Having CPR shields nearby may be a wise precaution for anyone in a profession where injury or accidents are likely. They are often included in first aid kits, which are greatly useful in classrooms, public centers like pools and theaters, and even workplaces. Medical supply stores and websites will often have many types of CPR shields available to purchase, both individually and as part of a kit.
Ideally, CPR should only be performed by a trained individual using proper protective gear, including a CPR shield. In case of emergency, some untrained people may be moved to try rescuing a person who is not breathing, using a basic knowledge of the technique. For safety reasons, some experts recommend that even untrained people carry emergency gear in case no qualified person can be found.