Basic life suppport is the main life-saving procedure which can be carried out by everybody. Resuscitation methods have changed little over the last 25 years, although much more is now known about resuscitation physiology, allowing modifications to be made for promoting perfusion and oxygenation of the vital organs. New guidelines have been published by the Resuscitation Council of the United Kingdom and the American Medical Association for teaching basic life support to all, and advanced cardiac life support to medical and para-medical staff. Nevertheless, the teaching and retention of these skills at even the basic level leaves a lot to be desired. Although most medical personnel feel they know what to do to administer prompt and effective resuscitation when required, nearly all are familiar with the hesitancy and indecision at the scene of a cardiac arrest. The theory and practice of basic life support skills are presented.
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