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.

The use of an AED in infants under 1 years old isn’t conclusive or strongly recommended.

If an AED isn’t immediately available, don’t waste time looking for the device. Start chest compressions immediately.

5. Locate hand position

If the person is an adult, place the heel of one of your hands in the center of their chest, between the nipples. Put your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers so they’re drawn up and the heel of your hand remains on their chest.

For children from age 1 to 8, use just one of your hands in the center of their chest.

For infants, place two fingers in the center of their chest, slightly below the nipple line.

6. Begin compressions

To start compressions on an adult, use your upper body to push straight down on their chest at least 2 inches. Perform these at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Allow their chest to recoil between compressions.

For children from ages 1 to 8, push straight down on their chest about 2 inches at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Allow their chest to recoil between compressions.

For an infant, push straight down on their chest 1½ inches at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Once again, let the chest recoil between compressions.

7. Continue compressions

Repeat the compression cycle until the person starts to breathe or medical help arrives. If the person begins to breathe, have them lie on their side quietly until medical assistance is on the scene.

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HealthForce Training Center provides high quality training and the latest American Heart Association programs customized for health and non-health care providers. Our mission is to provide a fun and stress free learning experience that can equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to be confident with their medical care and emergency situations.

AHA Disclaimer: The American Heart Association strongly promotes knowledge and proficiency in BLS, ACLS, and PALS and has developed instructional materials for this purpose. Use of these materials in an educational course does not represent course sponsorship by the American Heart Association. Any fees charged for such a course, except for a portion of fees needed for AHA materials, do not represent income to the Association.

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