How to Perform CPR: Hands-Only

Importance of CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique. It aims to keep blood and oxygen flowing through the body when a person’s heart and breathing have stopped.

CPR can be performed by any trained person. It involves external chest compressions and rescue breathing.

CPR performed within the first six minutes of the heart stopping can keep someone alive until medical help arrives.

Although rescue breathing techniques were used to revive drowning victims as early as the 18thcentury, it wasn’t until 1960 that external cardiac massage was proven to be an effective revival technique. The American Heart Association (AHA) then developed a formal CPR program.

While there’s no substitute for formal CPR training taught by certified instructors, the AHA recently recommended that people who haven’t received CPR training initiate “hands-only” CPR. This method removes the rescue breathing and is easy to perform, proven to save lives, and better than waiting until trained help arrives.

Performing hands-only CPR

People without CPR training can perform hands-only CPR by following the steps below.

1. Survey the scene

Make sure it’s safe for you to reach the person in need of help.

2. Check the person for responsiveness

Shake their shoulder and ask loudly, “Are you OK?” For an infant, tap the bottom of the foot and check for a reaction.

3. If the person isn’t responsive, seek immediate help

Call 911 or your local emergency services if the person isn’t responsive. You can also ask someone else to call. If you’re alone and believe the person is a victim of drowning, or if the unresponsive person is a child from age 1 to 8, begin CPR first, perform it for two minutes, then call emergency services.

4. Check the heart with an automated external defibrillator (AED)

If an AED is readily available, use it to check the person’s heart rhythm. The machine may also instruct you to deliver one electric shock to their heart before beginning chest compressions.

If the person is a child from age 1 to 8, perform CPR first for two minutes before checking their heart with an AED. Use the device’s pediatric pads if they’re available.