Performing CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) isn’t as complicated as you may think, and is a basic life-saving skill. CPR may be performed with chest compressions only, or a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths.

 

Hands-only CPR

How to carry out a chest compression:

  1. Place the heel of your hand on the person's breastbone at the centre of their chest
  2. Place your other hand on top of your first hand, interlocking the fingers
  3. Position yourself so that your shoulders are above your hands
  4. Use your full body weight to press straight down around 5-6cm on their chest
  5. Keep your hands in position, release the compression, and allow the casualty’s chest to return to its original position
  6. Repeat these compressions - we recommend at a rate of 100 to 120 times per minute - until an ambulance arrives or you cannot continue due to exhaustion.


Tip: If you get too tired, get someone else to take over if they are nearby. Even if they are not sure what to do, you can instruct them - it’s really vital to maintain the chest compressions.

CPR with rescue breaths

If you’ve received training in CPR with rescue breaths and feel confident in using your skills in an emergency scenario, you should try to give both chest compressions combined with rescue breaths. If you’re not confident, just carry out hands-only CPR.

The technique for performing CPR with rescue breaths varies depending on the age of the casualty:


Adults (puberty upwards):

  1. Perform the steps for hands-only CPR as above
  2. After every 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths
  3. Gently tilt the casualty’s head back and lift the chin up with two fingers
  4. Keep the casualty’s head tilted back, pinch their nose, seal your mouth over theirs and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth for one second
  5. Check that their chest rises
  6. Give two rescue breaths each time
  7. Continue the cycle until they recover, or emergency assistance arrives and takes over.

Children (aged 1 to puberty):

  1. Open the airway by placing one hand on the child’s forehead and tilting their head back, lifting the chin using two fingers
  2. Remove any visible obstructions from the mouth and nose, but don’t put your fingers into the mouth unnecessarily
  3. Keep the child’s head tilted back, pinch their nose, seal your mouth over theirs and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth, checking that their chest rises
  4. Give a total of five initial rescue breaths
  5. Perform chest compressions, using one hand in the middle of the chest, ensuring you achieve a depth of at least one third the depth of the child’s chest
  6. After every 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths
  7. Continue the cycle until they recover, or emergency assistance arrives and takes over.

Infants (under 1 years):

  1. Open the airway by placing one hand on the infant’s forehead and tilting their head back gently, lifting the chin using one finger
  2. Remove any visible obstructions from the mouth and nose, but don’t put your fingers into the mouth unnecessarily
  3. Keep the infant’s head tilted gently back, pinch their nose, seal your mouth over their mouth and nose and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth, checking that their chest rises
  4. Give a total of five initial rescue breaths
  5. Perform chest compressions using two fingers in the middle of the chest, ensuring you achieve a depth of at least one third the depth of the infant’s chest
  6. After every 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths
  7. Continue the cycle until they recover, or emergency assistance arrives and takes over.

Remember

If you find someone not breathing, it is vital you call for help, dial 999, and start CPR. Ambulance service call takers are trained to give CPR guidance to help you so don’t worry if you cannot remember everything.

It is always worth attending a first aid course and learning CPR as you will be able to practice this life-saving skill on a CPR training manikin. More guidance on CPR and general first aid can be found in the current
First Aid Manual.

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