Published: 2018-02-06T13:35:00Z

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure performed on a person in cardiac arrest. CPR combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation in an effort to manually preserve a supply of oxygen to the brain until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing. Anyone can be trained to do CPR, it is a very simple skill, and could mean the difference between life and death. 

We need a constant supply of oxygen to survive. If our brain cells do not get oxygen, they start to die within 3-4 minutes.  Learn how to perform CPR with these simple steps:


  • Make sure you, the casualty and any bystanders are safe. 


  • Quickly check to see if the casualty is conscious.  Gently shake or tap the shoulders and ask loudly 'are you ok?'


Turn the casualty onto their back if necessary and open the airway:

  • Place your hand on the forehead and gently tilt the head back.
  • Using your fingertips, lift the chin to open the airway.


  • Look, listen and feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds.

In the first few minutes after cardiac arrest, a casualty may be barely breathing, or taking infrequent, slow and noisy gasps.  DO NOT confuse this with normal breathing.  If you are in any doubt prepare to start CPR. Sometimes a casualty can have a seizure-like episode when the heart stops. Carefully consider if the casualty is breathing normally. If you are certain that the casualty is breathing normally, place them in the Recovery Position and complete the Primary Survey.

Call 999 and send for a defibrillator (AED)

  • Ask a helper to call if possible. If you make the call, stay with the casualty; if possible activate the speaker function on your phone to help communication.
  • Send someone to get an AED if available.


Kneel at the side of the casualty and give chest compressions:

  • Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the chest, place your other hand on top and interlock your fingers.
  • Keep your arms straight and position yourself vertically above the casualty's chest.
  • Press down on the breastbone to a depth of 5-6cm, and then release all the pressure without losing contact between your hands and the chest.
  • Avoid applying pressure over the ribs, the bottom end of the breastbone or the upper abdomen.
  • Do 30 chest compressions at a rate of 1-2 per second.

Rescue breaths

After 30 chest compressions, open the airway again and give 2 rescue breaths:

  • Pinch the soft part of the nose closed. Allow the mouth to open, but maintain the chin lift.
  • Take a normal breath and seal your lips around the casualty's mouth.
  • Blow steadily into the mouth, while watching for the chest to rise, taking about one second.
  • Keeping the airway open, take your mouth away from the casualty and watch for the chest to fall as air comes out.
  • Take another normal breath and blow in the casualty's mouth once more to achieve a total of 2 rescue breaths. 
  • Do not interrupt compressions by more than 10 seconds to give the 2 rescue breaths. Return your hands without delay to the centre of the chest and give another 30 chest compressions.

Continue with chest compressions and rescue breaths at a ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths. When others are available to help, try to changeover (with minimum delay) every 3 or 4 cycles, to prevent fatigue . Do not stop CPR until a paramedic or a healthcare professional tells you to or, the casualty starts breathing normally.

Remember - even if you do not want to do rescue breaths, you can still use hands-only CPR.



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