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Dealing With Emergencies - CPR

Steps of CPR

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into his or her mouth. It is used in emergencies when someone's heart stops beating, or when he or she is not breathing normally (may be gasping for breath) or is not breathing at all.

CPR works to move blood to the person's brain to help prevent brain damage. CPR can help keep someone alive until a health professional arrives.

The steps of CPR are C-A-B:

  • C for compression
  • A for airway
  • B for breathing

The CPR Basics has the basic steps for CPR. Use it for quick information on hand placement for chest compression, compression rates, compression depth, and ratio of compressions to rescue breaths.

The American Heart Association recommends taking a class on how to give CPR and then use the steps below as a reference.

Step 1. Check to see if the person is conscious.

Tap or gently shake the person and shout, "Are you okay?" But do not shake someone who might have a neck or back injury. That could make the injury worse.

If the person does not respond, follow these steps.

Adults and older children who have reached puberty

  • For an adult or an older child who has reached puberty (body hair or breast development):
    • Call 911 or other emergency services.
    • Get an AED if there is one nearby.
    • Start CPR.

Babies and young children until the age of puberty

  • For a baby or young child who has not reached puberty:
    • Start CPR.
    • Do CPR with rescue breaths for 2 minutes.
    • Call 911 or other emergency services.
    • Get an AED if there is one nearby.
    • Note: If there is another person with you, one person should call 911 while the other starts CPR.

Step 2: Start chest compressions.

For an adult or an older child who has reached puberty

  • Kneel next to the person.
  • Use your fingers to locate the end of the breastbone, where the ribs come together.
  • Place two fingers at the tip of the breastbone.
  • Place the heel of the other hand just above your fingers (on the side closest to the person’s face).
  • Use both hands to give compressions. Stack your other hand on top of the one that you just put in position. Lace the fingers of both hands together, and raise your fingers so they do not touch the chest.


Positioning your arms and body for doing chest compressions:

  • Straighten your arms, lock your elbows, and center your shoulders directly over your hands.
  • Press down in a steady rhythm, using your body weight. The force from each thrust should go straight down onto the breastbone, pressing it down at least 2 in. (5 cm). Be sure to let the chest re-expand at the end of each compression.
  • If you are not trained in CPR, give at least 100 chest compressions a minute. Push hard and push "fast." (Fast means to push between 1 and 2 times a second.)
  • If you are trained in CPR, see Step 3: Start rescue breaths.
  • Keep giving at least 100 chest compressions a minute until help arrives or the person is breathing normally.



WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 27, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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