CPR is a life-saving technique that can be used in a number of emergency situations when an individual’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. It is encouraged that everyone learn basic CPR, however you do not need to take a class in order to administer basic chest compressions in an emergency.

In fact, the American Heart Association recommends performing CPR to the best to your ability before paramedics can arrive on the scene. Simple hands-on CPR (chest compressions) at the rate of about 100 a minute can be enough to save a life before help can arrive.

Assess the Situation in an Emergency


Making decisions during an emergency can be extremely stressful. If you are in the company of a loved one whose breathing or heart beat has stopped, stay calm. Regardless of that person’s age, keep these three tips in mind before administering CPR:

  1. Identify if the individual is still conscious or not. Ask “are you OK?” in a loud voice while clapping or tapping the person’s arm.
  2. Ask a friend to call 911 while you begin CPR. If you are alone, always call 911 first unless you are dealing with a victim of drowning or suffocation. It is imperative to deliver immediate CPR to someone who is unresponsive because of suffocation.
  3. Use an AED if it is available. Follow the instructions on the device to deliver a single shock before starting CPR.

Keep this Acronym in Mind: CAB

Memorize this simple acronym to properly administer CPR. Remember, even if you are not formally trained, you can still administer hands-on CPR in the form of chest compressions.

  • C for Compressions. Chest compressions aid with restoring blood circulation after breathing has stopped. These should begin immediately.
  • A is for Airway. Clear the airway by tilting the head backwards while lifting the chin forwards as the individual is laying down flat on his or her back. (See photo)
  • B is for Breathing. Rescue breathing is the final step in administering CPR and should only be done by those trained to do so. Use only when an injury prevents the airway from opening. If you have reason to believe the person is unconscious from a heart attack, forgo rescue breathing and continue chest compressions until help can arrive. Rescue breaths are administered in cycles in combination with chest compressions. One full cycle: 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths.

Perform up to five cycles before using an AED, if available. If you have access to an AED, administer a single shock, then continue CPR. If no AED is available, continue administering full cycles until help arrives.

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