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CPR – What It Is and How to Perform It

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Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a critical life-saving skill that can mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations. In this guide, we will explore what CPR is, why it is essential to know how to perform it, and the step-by-step process of administering CPR effectively. 

CPR is the acronym often used for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. CPR is a technique used in emergencies when someone’s heart has stopped working properly or they have stopped breathing. It is a life-saving skill that can be performed by anyone with the proper training. The importance of knowing how to perform CPR cannot be overstated, as immediate action can significantly increase the chances of survival for someone in cardiac arrest or a similar emergency. 

What is CPR?


CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths designed to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation in a person whose heart has stopped beating or is beating ineffectively. The primary purpose of CPR is to keep vital organs, such as the brain, supplied with oxygen until professional medical help arrives. 

CPR is needed in various emergency scenarios, primarily when someone experiences cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, and it is a life-threatening condition. Other situations that may require CPR include drowning, choking, or when a person collapses and becomes unresponsive. 

In emergencies like cardiac arrests, CPR plays a crucial role in keeping the blood flowing and oxygenated, buying valuable time until more advanced medical interventions can be administered. 

Steps to Perform CPR


Performing CPR correctly is vital, and it involves a series of specific steps. 

  1. Assess the Situation

Before starting CPR, quickly assess the situation to ensure your safety and the victim’s condition. Check for any hazards or dangers in the surroundings, and determine if the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally. 

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  1. Call for Help

After assessing the situation and confirming that the victim is unresponsive and not breathing or breathing abnormally, call for professional medical help immediately. Time is of the essence in these situations, and getting medical professionals to the scene is crucial. 

  1. Perform Chest Compressions

Chest compressions are a fundamental part of CPR. To perform chest compressions effectively, follow these steps: 

  1. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim’s chest, just below the nipple line.
  2. Place the other hand on top of the first hand and interlock the fingers.
  3. Position yourself with your shoulders directly over your hands and keep your elbows straight.
  4. Aim for a compression depth of at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) for adult victims.
  5. Use your body weight to push down hard and fast on the chest, allowing it to recoil completely after each compression.
  6. Perform chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. You can use the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees as a reference for the correct tempo.
  1. Administer Rescue Breaths*

Rescue breaths are another crucial component of CPR, especially when the victim is not breathing or not breathing normally. To provide rescue breaths: 

  1. After performing 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths.
  2. Tilt the victim’s head backward slightly and lift the chin to open the airway.
  3. Give a breath that lasts about 1 second, watching for the chest to rise.
  4. Repeat the process to give a second rescue breath.
  5. Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths until the victim starts breathing normally, or professional medical help arrives.

*Use a barrier device to provide breaths when available. If you do not have a barrier device or are not comfortable delivering mouth-to-mouth breaths to a victim do compressions only CPR. Do not pause compressions after each set of 30. 

  1. Using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

In some cases, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) may be available and should be used in conjunction with CPR. AEDs are designed to analyze the heart’s rhythm and deliver an electric shock if necessary to restore a normal heartbeat.   

Safety Precautions 

While performing CPR, it’s essential to prioritize safety for both yourself and the victim. Some potential risks and precautions to consider include: 

– Ensure the scene is safe before starting CPR. 

– Use personal protective equipment (if available) to reduce the risk of infection transmission. 

– Be mindful of the victim’s ribs, as they may crack or break during chest compressions. Press down firmly but not excessively. 

– If an AED is used, ensure that no one is in direct contact with the victim while the shock is administered. 

Importance of CPR Training 


CPR is a skill that everyone should consider learning through proper training and certification. CPR training equips individuals with the knowledge and confidence to respond effectively in emergencies. Some benefits of CPR training and certification include: 

– Increased preparedness to save lives in emergencies. 

– The ability to act quickly and confidently in high-stress situations. 

– The opportunity to make a significant difference in the outcome of a cardiac arrest or similar event. 

In summary, CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a critical life-saving technique that can maintain blood circulation and oxygenation in emergencies when someone’s heart has stopped beating or is beating ineffectively. Knowing how to perform CPR correctly can be the difference between life and death. 

Understanding the steps involved in CPR, such as assessing the situation, calling for help, performing chest compressions and rescue breaths, and using an AED when available, is crucial for anyone who wants to be prepared to act in an emergency. 

By prioritizing safety, seeking proper CPR training and certification, and being ready to respond when needed, you can make a significant impact on the outcome of cardiac arrest and similar emergencies. Remember, in emergencies, every second counts, and your knowledge of CPR can be a true lifesaver. 

Learn How to Save a Life with CPR Certification in St. Louis


Knowing CPR can mean the difference between life and death for someone in an emergency situation. Our CPR certification courses offered by CPR St. Louis will equip you with the skills and confidence to perform CPR when it matters most.

With CPR training from CPR St. Louis, you’ll gain the ability to potentially save a coworker, loved one, or stranger when minutes matter most. Invest in these lifesaving skills and give yourself and others peace of mind.

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