PSHE KS3: How to administer CPR during the Covid-19 pandemic

In this short film Dr Emeka introduces the process for administering CPR and how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator), with specific tips for staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the help of animation, he explains what happens when someone goes into cardiac arrest and the steps that are needed to potentially save someone's life.

This short film is from the BBC Teach series 'Dr Emeka’s Essential First Aid'.

Teacher Notes

This short film is best used when students understand how to first carry out a primary survey on a casualty.

This is often summarised using the acronym DRSABC - Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

  • Danger - check it is safe to approach.
  • Response - check if the casualty is responsive or unresponsive. (Unresponsive requires immediate CPR, responsive casualties should be put into the recovery position).
  • Airway - check if their airway is clear.
  • Breathing - check if they are breathing.
  • Circulation - look for any signs of severe bleeding.

Students should be taught what to do if a casualty becomes responsive at any point (in which case they should be put into the recovery position) and if they are bleeding severely; if so the bleeding needs to be controlled by applying pressure to the wound.

Students could also be encouraged to discuss any fears they have involving the process of CPR and using an AED such as breaking ribs or shocking casualties that don’t require it.

They can be reassured that while breaking a rib is possible, it isn’t life threatening (whereas cardiac arrest is) and an AED will understand whether or not to shock a casualty once it has analysed them.

Pupils should also be made aware that some of the newer AEDs do not require chest compressions to stop while they analyse a casualties heart beat, but they most certainly need to be clear of the casualty if they are being shocked.

It should be made clear to students that an AED is the same as a defibrillator – they are interchangeable terms, both referring to the same thing.

Pupils could discuss and show an understanding of the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack.

80% of cardiac arrests happen at home, so it is likely that if a student comes across a cardiac arrest casualty, it will be someone that they know. However, if there was any reason why a student would not want to give rescue breaths to a casualty, it is important that they understand this is OK, and they should continue with chest compressions regardless.


Students could define ‘resuscitation’ and explain what it is for.

Students could discuss what a heart attack and a cardiac arrest may feel like and how they might recognise someone having one. They should be taught to recognise the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest.

Students could draw a map of their local area and mark where AEDs can be found. They could also go through a list of the location of each AED in the school.

They could think of ways in which to fundraise in order to facilitate an AED being installed locally.

Students could practise CPR on a mannequin. (NB CPR should never be performed on someone who does not require it).

Other subject areas

  • In science students could look at the function of the heart and what happens if it stops beating.
  • In PE students could understand the muscles, strength and endurance that can be required when administering CPR.


In this animation we have suggested that mouth to mouth resuscitation is avoided. We have also suggested that a cloth cover the mouth and nose of the casualty for hygiene reasons to protect the first aider. This advice was current in December 2020.

However, for the latest guidelines on how to administer CPR during the Covid-19 pandemic please refer to the Resuscitation Council UK guidelines

The main points to highlight are how to check for breathing safely without going close to the casualties mouth (check their chest movement for signs of breathing), what to do if you suspect the casualty has Covid-19 (place a covering over their nose and mouth) and refraining from giving rescue breaths.

Curriculum Notes

This short film touches on elements of PSHE first aid as introduced to the curriculum in England from September 2020 for Key Stage 3.

While not on the curriculum specifically, it could also be used in Wales and Northern Ireland at Key Stage 3 and in Scotland at 3rd and 4th level.

More from Dr Emeka’s Essential First Aid:

How to make a call to emergency services
Burns and scalds
Bleeding and shock
Head injuries
Bone fractures
How to administer CPR
Bites and stings