Education Article /  CPR and Basic Life Support

CPR and Basic Life Support

Posted by National CPR Association |

Jun 11, 2018

CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a way of providing basic life support (BLS) that is used during life-threatening situations such as cardiac arrest, suffocation, near-drowning, or other situations when a person stops breathing. CPR is done is to ensure that oxygenated blood circulates to the brain to avoid brain damage and death. It is therefore important that everyone learn about the basics of performing CPR.

The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that there are close to 400,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrests that occur every year outside the hospital. Most of these take place at home. However, about 70% of Americans do not know how to provide CPR when a life-threatening situation occurs. In general, parents with small children and infants should learn how to perform CPR so as to be able take proper action in case their child stops breathing because acting swiftly can mean saving their child’s life in many situations.

How to Learn CPR

The best way to acquire skills in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is to take Basic Life Support classes. These are usually offered by AHA or the Red Cross. Some hospitals and local colleges also offer these courses to the public. Features of CPR or BLS classes include:

  • Guidelines for providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation in adults
  • Guidelines for providing CPR in children and infants
  • Courses are given by qualified trainers
  • Demonstrations are performed on mannequins

If you are unable to take a formal CPR course, you can learn the simple Hands-only CPR, a simple procedure illustrated online at the AHA website. This is a form of CPR that anyone can perform without the need for formal training or certification because it is simple but can save another person’s life.

Basic Guidelines in CPR

Here are a few basic guidelines for people to follow before trying to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation:

  • First, find out if the person is unconscious: Tap them and using loud voice, ask if he/she is okay.
  • Shake the person gently if there is no neck or back injury.
  • Contact emergency medical services (EMS) so that trained persons arrive quickly.
  • If a child/infant needs CPR, first give CPR for 2 minutes, then contact EMS.
  • If there’s someone else present, ask them to call 911 as you begin CPR.
  • If you are not trained to do CPR, or are not sure about your ability to provide CPR, do hands-only CPR.
  • However, if you are trained to provide CPR, start the procedure, check the airways and provide rescue breaths.


Hands-Only CPR

How to carry out Hands-only CPR:

  • For an adult/teenager who suddenly collapses and needs CPR, place your hands on top of each other, with the heel of your bottom hand positioned at the middle of the person’s chest.
  • Straighten your arms, lock your elbows, then firmly and repeatedly press on the middle of the person’s chest.
  • When providing CPR on a child, use one hand only. For infants, use two fingers instead of using a hand.
  • Use a fairly hard pressing motion and do so at a rapid pace, following the beat of a disco classic “Stayin’ Alive.” This song from Saturday Night Fever movie has a beat that accurately mimics the heart rate a person can use to push on a chest (100 beats/min). Continue CPR until EMS arrives.

Basics of CPR

When providing full CPR to an unconscious individual, remember to do the three basic steps:

  • Perform chest compressions (same as hands-only procedure).
  • Open and check the person’s airways. Tilt his/her head back then lift their chin up.
  • Determine if the person is breathing. If he/she is not, provide emergency breaths by pinching their nose then breathing into their mouth to force some air into their lungs. Do this twice, each breath given in one second. For an infant, cover both mouth and nose of the baby with your mouth when delivering gentle breaths. After giving two breaths, provide 30 chest compressions.

Repeat the cycle until EMS arrives or until the person begins to breathe on their own.

To remember these steps better, think CAB: Compressions, Airways, Breathing. With these simple steps, the life you save may be your own loved one’s life.


Here are some links to provide more information on CPR:

American Red Cross: Cardiac Arrest/Adult CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/First Aid (MayoClinic)

Family Doctor: CPR

First Aid/CPR at NHS Choices

Important First Aid and CPR Links

KidsHealth: CPR

Learn Child CPR: Video Demonstration

Maternity Wellness Group

MedlinePlus CPR

New Guidelines on CPR: WebMD

The ABC of CPR