CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and is a big part of the first aid that should be given to anyone who is not breathing, or whose heart has stopped.
Hands-only CPR, also called ‘chest compression’, can save lives. If a person’s heart stops, blood (and oxygen) stops flowing to different parts of the body, and they start to die. The heart and the brain can be damaged much more quickly by this than most other organs, so to keep the patient from dying, you need to act quickly to get their heart beating.
Here’s how to perform CPR first aid, in 5 steps:
CPR Step 1 – Check Response
Check whether the person is ‘responsive’. That means see if they are awake, and aware of what is going on. Shake them by the shoulders. Say their name loudly. If they begin to come around they are NOT unresponsive, and you should NOT perform chest compression.
CPR Step 2 – Check Breathing and Pulse
Check if they are breathing, and if their heart is beating. If you can feel their breath or see their chest rising and falling they are breathing. If you can find a pulse at their neck, their heart is beating. If they are breathing or their heart is beating, do NOT perform CPR.
CPR Step 3 – Call 999
If they are not breathing and there is no pulse, call 999 immediately! Do this before starting CPR!
CPR Step 4 – Begin Compressions
Begin chest compressions. Lay your hands, one over the other, on the centre of the patient’s chest. Press down, very hard and very fast. You’re trying to do 100 compressions per minute, roughly 2 per second. It will make you tired very quickly. If possible, have someone take over for you, and rest for 30 seconds, then take over again.
CPR Step 5 – Check Again and Continue
Check for breathing and pulse again. If they are breathing or have a pulse, stop chest compression, and wait for the ambulance to arrive. If they are not, continue chest compressions.
CPR first aid with rescue breaths
If you have had proper first aid training, you will know how to add ‘rescue breaths’ sometimes called ‘the breath of life’ to CPR. Do not attempt this if you have not had CPR training! It can easily do more harm than good. Just do the chest compressions we’ve described above.
If you would like to learn how to provide advanced CPR techniques, we provide HABC approved First Aid Courses in London and nationwide.
Rescue breaths are begun by first performing chest compressions as described above. After 30 compressions, stop and give two rescue breaths.
- Tilt the patient’s head up slightly
- Lift their chin with two fingers.
- Pinch their nose shut.
- Place your open mouth over theirs, with a tight seal, and breathe firmly into their mouth, filling their lungs, for one second.
- Check that their chest is rising as you do this.
- Repeat once, for a total of two breaths.
Continue chest compressions as above, pausing every 30 to give two more rescue breaths, until their heart starts to beat or they begin to breathe on their own, or until the ambulance arrives.
Warnings about performing CPR
- These instructions are for adults only. Different procedures are required for administering first aid CPR to a child, and using the adult instructions above could injure a child very badly.
- Chest compressions can cause harm, including broken ribs, damage to the liver, lungs and/or spleen, and/or break their breastbone. These injuries are possible even with proper hand placement, but are much more common with poor placement, and untrained first responders.
- What if CPR doesn’t help? The bad news is, most of the time it doesn’t. Still, a patient’s chances are even worse if no CPR is attempted at all, so by all means have the best-qualified person there attempt it. It just might save a life.
- What if I hurt the patient? Can I be sued? The truth is you may injure the patient. Even if CPR revives them, injuries to the ribs and lungs are common, as well as other kinds of harm. Still, no one has ever been successfully sued in the UK for making a reasonable attempt to save someone’s life, even if they it poorly. ‘Do your best, but be sure to try’ is the best advice. If you would like to read more about the legal issues in depth, check the Resuscitation Council’s guide.
Book your CPR First Aid Training Course Today
Proper first aid training saves lives, and makes even the minor injuries common to any workplace easier to deal with. As many organisations require a certain percentage of their staff to be first aid certified, it might even help your career.
We provide Emergency First Aid Courses nationwide which teach proper CPR techniques as well as the best ways to deal with minor and major injuries quickly. In addition to learning how to respond to emergencies, you’ll know when it really is time to call in a medical professional.
CPR First Aid – Video
It’s difficult to get a feel for how to perform CPR from just a list of instructions. Luckily, the British Heart Foundation has put together a video starring Vinnie Jones that will guide you through the entire CPR procedure. Watch the video below, and be sure to sign up for a course when you’re done. Nothing beats hands-on training!