Compression-only CPR is catching on across the country for a few reasons. For starters, the time it takes to get trained in compression-only CPR is only a fraction of what full CPR classes require. Removing the time barrier makes it much easier to train a large percentage of potential responders. The second benefit is the obvious lack of having to do mouth-to-mouth, which can be an uncomfortable thought for many people.
At West Bend, we fully recognize the benefits of compression-only CPR and hope anyone that is unable to commit to full CPR training learns the basics of chest compressions. With that said, we want to emphasize that compression-only CPR is NOT safe for potential drowning victims and young children. Because of the adverse effects compression-only CPR could have on drowning victims, it is unlikely that the American Red Cross - the largest lifeguard certification body in the United States - will ever teach hands-only CPR to first responders.
The phrases "lawsuit" and "negligence" would get thrown around rather quickly if a lifeguard was to attempt a tracheotomy on a pool deck with a ball point pen. After all, most lifeguards lack the required training to perform such a procedure. The same holds true for compression-only CPR; nearly all lifeguards would be acting outside of the scope of their training if they attempted to perform CPR without rescue breaths.
Consider this official statement by the American Red Cross:
“We recognize that upon witnessing the sudden collapse of an adult, calling 9-1-1, and providing Compression-Only CPR until an AED is available is an acceptable alternative for those who are unwilling, unable, or not trained to perform full CPR."
Lifeguards, along with the rest of a swim club's staff, should only ever act within the scope of their training and certification. If a lifeguard fails to follow protocol and something goes wrong they could possibly be found negligent. Liability claims that arise from staff negligence and improper training can have a major impact on a pool's insurance premiums.