CPR in 5 steps
Step 1: Shake and shout
If you come across someone who is unconscious, always check for danger and look for risks before you start helping.
Someone having a cardiac arrest will either not be breathing or they won’t be breathing normally. They also won’t be conscious.
Check for a response – gently shake the person’s shoulders and ask loudly ‘are you alright?’
Shout for help – if someone is nearby, ask them to stay as you might need them. If you are alone, shout loudly to attract attention, but don’t leave the person.
Step 2: Call 999
If the person is not breathing or not breathing normally:
- ask someone to call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance
- ask someone for a public access defibrillator (PAD).
If there’s no one around call 999 before starting compressions.
Step 3: Cover mouth and nose with cloth.
- If you think there’s a risk of infection, lay a towel or a piece of clothing over the mouth and nose. Don’t put your face close to theirs.
- If you’re sure the person is breathing normally, then put them in the recovery position.
Step 4: Give chest compressions
Do not give rescue breaths at this time.
- Kneel next to the person.
- Place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest. Place your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers.
- With straight arms, use the heel of your hand to push the breastbone down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm, and release.
- Do this at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second.
Step 5: Keep going
- Keep going until professional help arrives and takes over, or the person starts to show signs of regaining consciousness, such as coughing, opening their eyes, speaking, or breathing normally.
- If you’re feeling tired, and there’s someone nearby to help, instruct them to continue.
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