There are approximately 350,000 incidents of cardiac arrest that happen outside of hospitals in the US every year, 70% of them occur in a resident’s home. The truth is, most cardiac arrests don’t occur where immediate medical attention is available. With an overwhelming 70% of Americans who don’t know the proper way to respond to cardiac emergencies, knowledge of how to perform CPR in many cases is the difference between life and death. This simple guide teaches you the basics of CPR so that you’re prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies no matter where and when they may occur.
To Perform CPR on adults
1. Examine the scene and call for emergency assistance
First, check to make sure the scene of the incident is safe. If safe, proceed to ask the patient if they’re okay. If the patient is unresponsive or needs medical assistance, call 911 or medical emergency services immediately. Stay with the patient.
2. Check their breathing
Clear the patient’s airways and check to see if they are breathing. Listen to their breath for no longer than 10 seconds. If breathing is irregular (patient is gasping for air) or nonexistent, begin to administer CPR.
3. Perform compressions
Begin CPR by performing compressions in the middle of the patient’s chest (between their nipples). Place one hand on top of the other, lacing fingers together, and push hard. Using your bodyweight for assistance if necessary, make sure the compressions sink two inches into the patient’s chest. Administer the compressions quickly, at least 100 compressions per minute.
4. Deliver rescue breaths
Tilt the patient’s head back so their chin is lifted allowing air flow to their lungs. Pinch their nose shut and place your mouth completely over theirs. Make sure no air escapes when you administer breaths into their mouth. When you blow into the patient’s mouth you should see their chest rise, this means you’re delivering rescue breaths properly. Give the patient two rescue breaths and then return to performing chest compressions (100 per minute).
If the patient’s chest does not rise during the first rescue breath, tilt their head back further. If the chest still does not rise, check to see if there is any food or object blocking their airway as the patient might be choking. If you see an object blocking their airway, remove it.
5. Repeat the cycle
Continue repeating the cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths until the patient begins to breathe again, and/or until emergency medical services arrive at the scene.
To Perform CPR on children
CPR for children is slightly different than CPR for adults. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 as they are the same for both children and adults when performing CPR. Examine the scene and call for emergency assistance. Tilt their head back, pinch their nose and give two full rescue breaths. Following the rescue breaths, give 30 chest compressions at the rate of 100 per minute (same rate as adult CPR). After 30 chest compressions, repeat the cycle. The same cycle is used on infants with just two fingers used for chest compressions instead of your whole hand.
To see a proper demonstration of CPR, watch The American Red Cross’s educational video.