Learning how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save lives. Whether you’re a medical professional, like a nurse, a first responder, or a member of the general public who happens to come across someone in need of this common emergency procedure, correctly administering CPR can keep a victim alive until further treatment can be administered. CPR may be required after drowning, suffering electric shock, or having a heart attack. While the reasons that you may find yourself performing CPR can vary, the standard procedure remains the same.
Steps to Take Before Administering CPR
1. Assess the scene and the individual requiring medical attention. Ask bystanders if anyone in the group is a medical professional. If no medical personnel are available, ensure that your immediate surroundings are safe. Start by gently tapping the individual’s shoulder to get his attention. Ask, “Are you OK?” to see if he’s conscious.
2. Call 911 to explain the situation and request advice. Should the victim exhibit signs of needing immediate assistance, request that someone near you call 911 and tell a bystander to find an automated external defibrillator (AED). If no bystanders are available and access to an AED is impossible, remain by the victim’s side while calling 911 and begin the process of manually assisting the individual.
3. If you’re sure that the victim hasn’t sustained a neck or spinal injury, take steps to open the victim’s airway. Ensure that the victim is lying on his back. Then, lift his chin up by tilting his head back to allow for the easy passage of air.
4. Verify that the victim isn’t breathing. Request that the ambient noise of nearby people be lowered so that you can listen and study the individual. Concentrate on closely monitoring the victim’s breathing patterns for 10 seconds. Gasping and guttural sounds indicate difficulty breathing. Should the victim exhibit no signs of breathing, prepare to start CPR.
CPR Steps Approved by the Red Cross
1. Clasp one hand over the other and put both hands in the middle of the victim’s chest. Using your body weight for extra pressure, push down hard and fast. Aim for these compressions to be at least 2 inches deep. Your goal should be to administer at least 100 compressions a minute to imitate the heart’s natural beating pattern.
2. Tilt the victim’s head back and lift his chin again to prepare his body for rescue breaths. Pinch his nose so that your breaths won’t escape. Create a tight seal by placing your mouth over the victim’s and blow into his mouth so that his chest responds and rises. Complete two rescue breaths then deliver another set of compressions.
Advice: Tilt the victim’s head again if his chest doesn’t rise after you deliver the first rescue breath. Monitor the victim’s chest as you deliver your second rescue breath. If the victim’s chest still doesn’t rise, inspect the mouth and throat for obstructions that could cause him to choke and remove anything present. Continue checking for obstructions after every 100 compressions and before you deliver a new set of rescue breaths.
3. Keep administering CPR. Continue the regular cycles of compressions and rescue breaths until the victim can breathe on his own again. You can stop when someone produces an AED to use or when medical personnel arrive and offer assistance. Consider ending the CPR cycles if you become tired or if the scene poses a threat to your personal safety.
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- Introduction to CPR (PDF)
- The ABCs of CPR (PDF)
- CPR First Aid
- Think You Can’t Do CPR? Think Again
- Save a Life With CPR (PDF)
- Animated CPR Steps
- CPR Procedures for Health Professionals (PDF)
- American Heart Association (AHA) Updates Guidelines for CPR
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- Dog Tips: CPR for Pets of All Sizes and Weights
- Feline CPR: Cat-Related Emergency Planning (PDF)
- How to Give Your Cat CPR
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- Skills Testing Checklist for Infant CPR (PDF)
- CPR and First Aid Training for Junior Counselors and Adult Leaders (PDF)
- Basic Life Support and CPR Study Guide (PDF)
- Summary of CPR and AED Skills for Adults, Children and Infants (PDF)
- American Red Cross: Get Your CPR Certification
- American Heart Association Find a CPR Course and First Aid Training
- National CPR Foundation’s CPR/AED/First-Aid Certification Course
- The National CPR Association’s CPR/AED/First Aid Certification and Recertification Courses