CPR in Remote Settings

CPR in Remote SettingsThis protocol applies only to normothermic patients (core temperature >90°F; 32°C) that appear to be in cardiac arrest. Chest compressions are to be initiated for patients in cardiac arrest as evidenced by pulselessness. [src]

To be effective, CPR must be started promptly and be provided in a consistent and quality manner. Even then, its benefits in a wilderness or remote setting are limited.

CPR should NOT be started, or may be discontinued
after initiated for the following reasons:

  1. Cardiorespiratory arrest after submersion in water for more than sixty minutes in the absence of a source of air such as SCUBA equipment or an air pocket.


  2. Obvious lethal injury such as decapitation, exsanguination, or massive head injury.


  3. Where cardiac arrest persists continuously for over 30 minutes of sustained CPR.


  4. Where rescuers are at risk of injury or death.

Special Circumstances


Chest compressions should NOT be performed on any individual suspected of being hypothermic. Regardless of whether or not a pulse is found, ONLY positive pressure ventilations (mouth-to-mask or rescue breathing) should be administered due to the possible fragile electrical state of the heart.

Ensure that ABCs are checked for a full 60 seconds on any patient considered to be hypothermic (core temperature <90°F; 32°C). Evacuate to definitive care slowly and carefully and rewarm the patient’s core, continually checking the warming mechanisms to ensure they remain effective.



CPR should be administered immediately, when safe to do so, to all lightning strike victims who appear breathless and/or pulseless. Respiratory paralysis may continue long after cardiac activity returns.


Cold Water Submersion

CPR should be administered immediately to any unconscious (and not breathing and/or pulseless) patient who has been submerged in cold water (70°F; 21.1°C) for less than one hour.


The above specified protocol has been authorized for use by Center for Wilderness Safety for WEMT, WFR, WAFA, WFAA and WFA trained employees of the employer named the document, provided they meet the requirements of the authorization criteria listed in this protocols packet.

Protocol 3 – CPR in Remote Settings