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Comparison of the quality of basic life support provided by rescuers trained using the 2005 or 2010 ERC guidelines

Christopher M Jones1*, Andrew Owen2, Christopher J Thorne1 and Jonathan Hulme3

Author Affiliations

1 Resuscitation for Medical Disciplines, College of Medical & Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

2 Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, B15 2WB, UK

3 Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham, B18 7QH, UK

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Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 2012, 20:53  doi:10.1186/1757-7241-20-53

Published: 9 August 2012



Effective delivery of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and prompt defibrillation following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is vital. Updated guidelines for adult basic life support (BLS) were published in 2010 by the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) in an effort to improve survival following SCA. There has been little assessment of the ability of rescuers to meet the standards outlined within these new guidelines.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of the performance of first year healthcare students trained and assessed using either the new 2010 ERC guidelines or their 2005 predecessor, within the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. All students were trained as lay rescuers during a standardised eight hour ERC-accredited adult BLS course.


We analysed the examination records of 1091 students. Of these, 561 were trained and assessed using the old 2005 ERC guidelines and 530 using the new 2010 guidelines. A significantly greater proportion of candidates failed in the new guideline group (16.04% vs. 11.05%; pā€‰<ā€‰0.05), reflecting a significantly greater proportion of lay-rescuers performing chest compressions at too fast a rate when trained and assessed with the 2010 rather than 2005 guidelines (6.04% vs. 2.67%; pā€‰<ā€‰0.05). Error rates for other skills did not differ between guideline groups.


The new ERC guidelines lead to a greater proportion of lay rescuers performing chest compressions at an erroneously fast rate and may therefore worsen BLS efficacy. Additional study is required in order to define the clinical impact of compressions performed to a greater depth and at too fast a rate.

Adult; Basic life support (BLS); Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); 2005 European Resuscitation Council (ERC) guidelines; 2010 European Resuscitation Council (ERC) guidelines; Cardiac arrest