It’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life.
When someone’s blood flow or breathing stops, seconds count. Permanent brain damage or death can happen quickly. If you know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), you could save a life. CPR is an emergency procedure for a person whose heart has stopped or is no longer breathing. CPR can maintain circulation and breathing until emergency medical help arrives.
Before starting CPR, check:
- Is the person conscious or unconscious?
- If the person appears unconscious, tap or shake his or her shoulder and ask loudly, “Are you OK?”
- If the person doesn’t respond and two people are available, one should call emergency number and one should begin CPR. If you are alone and have immediate access to a telephone, call before beginning CPR — unless you think the person has become unresponsive because of suffocation (such as from drowning). In this special case, begin CPR for one minute and then call emergency number.
- If an Automated external defibrillator[AED] is immediately available, deliver one shock if instructed by the device, then begin CPR.
Remember to spell C-A-B
The American Heart Association uses the acronym of CAB — compressions, airway, breathing — to help people remember the order to perform the steps of CPR.
Compressions: Restore blood circulation
- Put the person on his or her back on a firm surface.
- Kneel next to the person’s neck and shoulders.
- Place the heel of one hand over the center of the person’s chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
- Use your upper body weight (not just your arms) as you push straight down on (compress) the chest at least 2 inches (approximately 5 centimeters). Push hard at a rate of about 100 compressions a minute.
- If you haven’t been trained in CPR, continue chest compressions until there are signs of movement or until emergency medical personnel take over.
If you have been trained in CPR, go on to checking the airway and rescue breathing.
Airway: Clear the airway
- If you’re trained in CPR and you’ve performed 30 chest compressions, open the person’s airway
- Put your palm on the person’s forehead and gently tilt the head back. Then with the other hand, gently lift the chin forward to open the airway.
- Check for normal breathing, taking no more than five or 10 seconds
- If the person isn’t breathing normally and you are trained in CPR, begin mouth-to-mouth breathing
- If you believe the person is unconscious from a heart attack and you haven’t been trained in emergency procedures, skip mouth-to-mouth breathing and continue chest compressions.
Breathing: Breathe for the person
Rescue breathing can be mouth-to-mouth breathing or mouth-to-nose breathing if the mouth is seriously injured or can’t be opened
- With the airway open (using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver), pinch the nostrils shut for mouth-to-mouth breathing and cover the person’s mouth with yours, making a seal.
- Prepare to give two rescue breaths. Give the first rescue breath — lasting one second — and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does rise, give the second breath. If the chest doesn’t rise, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver and then give the second breath.Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths is considered one cycle.
- Resume chest compressions to restore circulation.
- If the person has not begun moving after five cycles (about two minutes) and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, apply it and follow the prompts. Administer one shock, then resume CPR — starting with chest compressions — for two more minutes before administering a second shock.
- If you’re not trained to use an AED, continue CPR until there are signs of movement or emergency medical personnel take over.