The leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is cardiovascular disease. You can administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in many different situations. If a person has drowned, had a heart attack, experienced a stroke, gone into cardiac arrest, or is choking, proper training could mean the difference between life and death. If the patient isn’t breathing, is unconscious or has no pulse, CPR should be applied immediately. Proper CPR begins with chest compressions and no longer requires mouth-to-mouth breathing techniques.

It's important to note: Death is likely to occur after 10 minutes of loss of oxygen to the brain. From 6 to 10 minutes, brain damage is expected. From 4 to 6 minutes, brain damage is very possible, and from 0 to 4 minutes, permanent or serious brain damage isn’t likely to occur.

Understanding CPR

When the heart stops beating, blood stops flowing throughout the rest of the body and the brain no longer receives a steady supply of oxygen. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation involves the application of chest compressions applied to a person who has no pulse or isn’t breathing. Chest compressions will allow the heart to carry oxygenated blood throughout the body and to the brain. CPR essentially acts like an artificial heart moving the blood rich in oxygen to the brain.

The patient's survival rate increases as they receive manual CPR, controlled stimulation from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and if trained emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrive as quickly as possible to provide further assistance.


Untrained rescuers should provide Hands-Only CPR since it's easy for an operator (dispatcher) to provide instructions and guidance over the phone.

Remember, it is a priority to activate the Emergency Response System (automatically done by the operator when calling 911 for assistance) immediately and to start and continue chest compressions as directed.

How to do Hands-Only CPR
Hands-Only CPR:

If you witness a sudden cardiac arrest and attempt CPR, you can dispense with the mouth-to-mouth breathing. According to the American Heart Association, performing hands-only CPR can be just as effective as performing CPR with mouth-to-mouth. That means chest compressions alone are sufficient until trained responders arrive on the scene.

Do note that conventional CPR is still the way to go with children and infants. However, as most pediatric cardiac arrests are caused by asphyxiation, it may not be possible to perform rescue breaths. If so, go ahead with the hands-only method as it is better than no CPR at all.

To perform hands-only CPR, first, kneel beside the person who needs assistance. Get into position by placing the heel of one hand on the center of their chest, and the heel of the other hand over the first hand. Interlace your fingers. Keep your shoulders lined directly over your hands and your arms straight.

Once in position, start pushing hard and fast. Make use of your body weight to help make compressions, which should be at least two inches deep and occur at a rate of at least one-hundred compressions per minute. Allow the chest to rise completely between each compression.

From there, keep pushing until you see breathing or obvious indications of life. You can also stop once a trained responder or EMS professional is ready to take over or an AED becomes available. Stopping may also be necessary if you are unable to carry on due to exhaustion or the scene becomes unsafe.