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What is CPR and how is it done?

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a life-saving technique used in emergencies when someone's heart or breathing has stopped. Performing CPR promptly and correctly can significantly increase a person's chances of survival.

Red Heart made from stethoscope

Here are the key steps and the importance of each in the CPR process:

1. Assess the Scene: Before starting CPR, ensure you and the person needing CPR are not in any danger.

2. Check for Responsiveness: Tap the victim on the shoulders and shout loudly to check if they are responsive. If they are not response, then they need you to start CPR.

3. Call for Help: Call emergency services or ask someone else to call for you. Time is critical in cardiac arrest situations, and professional medical assistance is vital.

4. Open the Airway: Air flow in and out of the lungs is crucial. The airway isn’t necessarily always open when someone is lying on their back. The airway can be opened by gently tilting the victim's head backward and lift the chin upwards.

5. Check for Breathing: Look, listen, and feel for normal breathing. Look if the chest is rising, listen for breathing sounds and feel if the chest rises or moves. If the victim is not breathing or is only gasping, it's a sign of cardiac arrest, and CPR should be started.

6. Start Chest Compressions:

  1. Kneel alongside the victim. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the victim's chest, just below the nipple line.

  2. Place your other hand on top of the first hand, interlocking the fingers.

  3. Keep your arms straight and lock your elbows. By leaning over the victim and using your upper body weight, push hard and fast on the victim’s chest. Compress the chest at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. This is about 30 compressions per every 12-15 seconds.

7. Provide Rescue Breaths: After 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths:

  1. Ensure the airway is open.

  2. Pinch the victim's nose shut.

  3. Blow a breath into their mouth that makes their chest rise visibly. The breathes must be big and forceful and come from your stomach.

  4. Continue with chest compressions and rescue breaths in a ratio of 30 compressions : 2 breaths.

8. Continue CPR: Each CPR cycle comprises of 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. Continue the cycles until professional help arrives. After 5 cycles, check for breathing before continuing. Continue until the paramedics take over, the victim starts breathing on their own, or you are too exhausted to continue.

9. Use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator): If an AED is available, it could drastically improve the victim’s chances of recovery. It has very simple, easy to follow voice prompts that tell you what to do once it’s turned on. Resume CPR immediately after the shock or when it tells you to until professional help arrives.

Why are these steps so important?

Rapid Response: Getting professional help early is crucial because immediate medical intervention is often necessary to address the underlying cause of cardiac arrest. Early intervention in a life-threatening situation can improve chances of survival.

Airway and Breathing: Opening the airway and checking for breathing ensures that the victim can receive oxygen, which is essential for survival. This may also aid in easier breathing if the victim is struggling to breath on their own. Even compression only CPR will not be as effective without an open airway.

Chest Compressions: Compressions help maintain blood circulation to vital organs, especially the brain and heart, until a normal heartbeat can be restored. The circulation maintains oxygen flow to the brain, although much less, prevents the brain and organs from completely shutting down without oxygen or blood.

Rescue Breaths: Providing rescue breaths supplies oxygen to the victim's lungs, which is then circulated to the body when combined with chest compressions. The breaths are not absolutely necessary but improve the efficiency of CPR.

AED Use: AEDs can restore a normal heart rhythm, increasing the chances of survival. Following the AED's instructions is critical. It can be used at any point in the CPR cycle and is easy to use.

Remember that CPR training and certification are essential to ensure you perform these steps correctly and confidently. Performing CPR promptly and effectively can make a significant difference in saving someone's life during a cardiac emergency. It is vitally important that people who work with children or water are trained in CPR. It is also wise that parents and caregivers/au pairs are trained in infant CPR as well as adult CPR.

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