When a victim is in cardiac arrest emergency, if you have to stop to ask how to perform CPR, you lose precious time in a situation where every second counts. When a person’s heart stops and they are not breathing, they have less than eight minutes before they begin to suffer brain damage and die. This is a short amount of time and why every individual should learn how to perform CPR.

Before continuing, it is important for each person reading this article to realize that this CPR guide is not intended to be a substitution for CPR certification or training, it is intended to provide you with a general understanding of the basic steps. These instructions are for adult CPR. Visit this page to learn how to do CPR on a baby.

Steps for Performing CPR

If the subject is not breathing, try to wake the victim. If there is no response, immediately dial 911. If you cannot get a response and there is no heartbeat or pulse, then begin chest compressions immediately.

For emergencies which the victim is breathing, you will want to use your knuckles to briskly rub them against the subject’s sternum. If there is no response from the subject, or the victim wakes and is not able to speak or confused, call 911 immediately, but do not perform CPR.

Chest compressions are designed to pump blood through the subject’s heart to manually keep the subject alive until the emergency response team arrives. To perform a chest compression, take the heel of your hand and place it in the middle of the subject’s chest. Place your other hand over your first and interlace your fingers. The chest will need to be compressed at least 4 – 5 cm or 2 inches. Before beginning your second compression the chest must recoil. Chest compressions should be applied at a rate of no less than 100 compressions per minute.

  • If you are untrained in CPR: If you are untrained in CPR, the American Heard Association recommends a simplified version of CPR called Hands-Only CPR. You simply continue with the chest compressions until the victim is revived or the emergency response team arrives. Do not be concerned that you may hurt the victim, you may hear snaps and pops when you initiate CPR, this is not out of the ordinary, and don’t become scared and stop, you are saving a life.
  • If you are trained in CPR: After the 30th chest compression you should open the subject’s airway utilizing the head/tilt, chin/lift method. With one hand, pinch the subject’s nose and use your mouth to make a seal around the victim’s mouth. If you have a CPR mask, use it. You want to exhale in the subject’s mouth enough that you see the subject’s chest rise. Let the subject’s chest fall and then initiate a second breath. If for some reason the subject’s chest fails to rise on the initial breath, than reposition the subject’s head. If for some reason you are not comfortable with breathing into the subject’s mouth, then stop and continue with the chest compressions. Repeat the cycle of 30 more chest compressions and repeat two rescue breaths. Repeat for approximately two minutes and then stop and check subject. If there is still no sign of breathing then continue with CPR and every two minutes check the subject. It will be necessary for you continue applying CPR until the emergency response team arrives.

Remember: the steps for CPR are C-A-B. This stands for compressions, airway, and breathing. This will help you remember the order of the steps, which is especially helpful in an emergency situation.

As mentioned earlier in the article this helpful guideline is not intended to replace CPR training. Each individual, from school aged children to adults, should have get proper training or certification to learn how to properly perform CPR in an emergency. When an emergency arises that involves a loved one, you will be grateful that you have the training and do not have to wait hopelessly for an emergency response team.