Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a critical life-saving technique used on people who are unconscious and not breathing. It’s a combination of chest compressions and breaths used to sustain blood flow and oxygen throughout the body to keep the brain alive until emergency medical personnel arrive. CPR training is the best way to know how to help individuals in emergency situations.

Before Beginning CPR

There are a few things to do before jumping in and starting chest compressions to ensure your safety and to make sure the victim really needs CPR.

Check the Scene and Victim

This shouldn’t take long, but make sure the area is safe. If electrical wires are laying on the ground or other hazards are in the area, don’t enter and assist the victim. It could make the situation worse and create another person that needs rescuing.

If the scene is safe, check on the victim. Tap their shoulder or arm and ask if they are okay. If there is no response it’s time to take action.

Call for Help

After determining the victim is unconscious call 9-1-1 or ask a bystander to make the call. Then evaluate the victim by getting near their mouth while looking at their chest. See if you feel any steady air or witness their chest rising and falling. If the person isn’t breathing (intermittent gasps don’t count) it’s time to begin chest compressions. If you are in a location with an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), ask another bystander to retrieve it, but don’t get it yourself.

Quick-Step Guide to CPR

There are a few simple steps to performing CPR.

  1. Give thirty chest compressions
  2. Give two slow breaths
  3. Repeat

CPR is continued until one of two things happens: An AED is used (following its use, continue CPR) or Emergency Medical help arrives.

CPR Training: A Detailed Guide to Adult CPR

Step 1: Give Chest Compressions

Make sure the person is lying flat on their back on a solid surface. Quickly remove clothing from the chest area to keep them from obstructing the compressions and to be able to find proper hand placement. 

Place one hand flat on the center of the chest. The heel of the hand should be located on the breast bone. Put the other hand on top of the first, interlocking your fingers. From directly above the person, straighten your arms and press downward, compressing the chest about two inches. Continue doing this at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. That’s about the beat of Baby Shark or Staying Alive for a reference.

Continue doing compressions until you have done 30.

Step 2: Give Rescue Breaths

Next, you need to breathe for the victim. Tilt their head back slightly to help open the airway. Then plug their nose and place your mouth over theirs to cover it. Blow into their mouth so the chest rises. If you don’t see the chest move, re-tilt the head and try another breath. 

Once you see the chest rise and fall with your breath, give one more the exact same. Then return to chest compressions.

Step 3: Repeat Until Help Arrives

Repeat the process of giving 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths until Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) arrive or you are too tired to continue. 

Step 4 (Optional): Use an AED

If bystanders are able to obtain an AED don’t be afraid to use it. AED’s are automated with instructions to help you step by step. 

There are adult pads and child pads (for kids under 8). If you don’t have child pads, adult ones can be used. Just place one pad on the chest and the other on the back. Be sure to stand clear of the body when told so you don’t get shocked yourself. Make sure all bystanders are standing clear as well.

After using the AED, continue CPR, leaving the pads in place. 

Compression-Only CPR (or Street CPR)

As you receive CPR training, you’ll likely be told about street CPR. During street CPR, the rescue breaths are left out and only chest compressions are administered. If the person requiring CPR is a complete stranger, you may not be comfortable doing mouth to mouth resuscitation. There would be dangers involved in this kind of contact. With the coronavirus outbreak, Influenza, and other diseases transmitted through body fluids, it may not be safe to give the rescue breaths.

In these cases, or if you are just plain uncomfortable with mouth to mouth, it’s perfectly fine to give street CPR. In fact, it’s better than doing nothing at all.

Final Thoughts on Administering CPR

There are a few slight differences between Adult CPR and child/infant CPR. Make sure you know how to do all three if you will be around kids or infants. 

Having CPR training for emergencies could one day save a life, maybe even that of a close loved one. Whether at home, work or on the street, CPR has saved nearly 45% of cardiac victims. Granted, it’s something you hope you never have to use.

If you are looking for more information on CPR and First Aid, please visit our resource center.