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Heartsaver Guide
(Please try to attend a CPR training course)

CPR provides a trickle of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart and keeps these organs alive until defibrillation can shock the heart into a normal rhythm.

If CPR is started within 4 minutes of collapse and defibrillation provided within 10 minutes a person has a 40% chance of survival.

One-Rescuer CPR



Check the victim for unresponsiveness.
  • Tap or gently shake victim at the shoulders and shout "are you okay?"
  • If no response, ACTIVATE EMS SYSTEM
    - Call for help / ambulance.






Position the victim. Turn on back if necessary, supporting head and neck. Place victim flat on his/her back on a hard surface.

Open the Airway (head tilt-chin lift)
- Open victims' airway by lifting the chin up gently with one hand while pushing down on the forehead with the other to tile the head back.








Check breathing (look,listen,feel).
Position your cheek close to victims' nose and mouth, look toward victims' chest, and Look, listen, and feel for breathing (5-10 seconds).

- Look at the chest for movement.
- Listen for the sounds of breathing.
- Feel for breath on your cheek.

If not breathing, give 2 slow breaths. Pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and blow until you see the chest rise.

If the victim is breathing and there is no evidence of trauma, place the victim in the recovery position. Place the victim on his side, using the victim's arm and leg for stabilization.





Check for carotid pulse by feeling for 5-10 seconds. Place 2 or 3 fingers on the Adam's Apple (voice box). Slide fingers into the groove between Adam's apple and muscle. Feel for the carotid pulse.  
  • If there is a pulse but victim is not breathing, perform Rescue breathing. Provide about 12 breaths per minute ( 1 breath every 5 seconds) 

  • If there is no pulse, give cycles of 15 chest compression followed by 2 breaths.

Place heel of one hand on lower part of victim's sternum. With your other hand directly on top of first hand, Depress sternum 1.5 to 2 inches.

Perform 15 compressions to every 2 breaths. (rate: 80-100 per minute)

After 4 cycles of 15:2 (about 1 minute), , check pulse. If no pulse, continue 15:2 cycle beginning with chest compressions.



This web site is to be used as a free guide and an informational resource, but it cannot replace real CPR or first aid training. Please try to attend a CPR training course in your community and help save a life.

*The information in this web site is based, in part, on guidelines contained in American Heart Association, Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

Ask Questions about CPR

  • During the CPR, what is the percentage of heart efficiency as a pump?
  • The best estimate of the heart efficiency during CPR is 10-30% of normal.


  • I heard that no matter if a person is unconscious that you should perform CPR. Is this true? When should you not perform CPR?
  • It is true that sometimes a person may be unconscious and their heart is still beating and they may still be breathing. Such a situation, for example, may occur in someone who has just had a grand mal seizure. If you tried to do CPR on such a person he or she would probably groan and even try to push you away. This would be your clue that they did not need CPR. CPR is intended only for someone whose heart and breathing has stopped. If the victim moves or pushes you away, you should stop CPR.


  • When you are giving mouth to mouth are you actually breathing oxygen into the victim's lungs or are you trying to stimulate breathing by breathing carbon dioxide into their lungs?
  • You are breathing oxygen into the lungs. Your exhaled breath contains 16% oxygen which is close to the 20% contained in the air you breathe in.


  • When performing CPR, how do I know if its working?
  • The only way to tell is to see if the chest rises with ventilation and if the chest compression results in a pulse. Someone has to feel the femoral artery while the other compresses the chest in order to see if the chest compression results in a pulse. If you are unsure whether you are doing CPR correctly during an emergency situation don't stop. Its better to perform CPR imperfectly than not at all.


  • If a person has had bypass surgery, and a situation occurs that they require CPR, are there any special considerations that need to be made?
  • No, CPR should be done in the regular fashion.


  • What if the victim has a pulse, but is not breathing?
  • Then continue with mouth to mouth respiration and continue to check the pulse every minute or so.


  • Is it easier to break an overweight persons ribs or a skinner persons ribs when performing cpr?
  • The weight of the victim has little to do with the chances of breaking a rib, instead the age of the victim seems to determine the fragility of the bones.


  • Can I kill someone if I do CPR incorrectly?
  • No. Remember the person in cardiac arrest is already clinically dead. CPR can only help. Even if it's not done "letter perfect" it will probably provide some benefit to the victim.


  • What if I crack a rib when I do CPR?
  • Frequently ribs are broken with the pressure CPR places on the sternum. Some studies quote up to 30% of cardiac arrest victims have broken ribs as a result of CPR. This happens more frequently the older the victim since the cartilage is less compliant and the bones more easily crackable. But remember, it's better to have a cracked rib then be dead.


  • What is the recovery position?
  • Assuming the person has a pulse and is breathing, the recovery position means placing the person on his or her side. This allows for the person not to choke on saliva and helps keep the airway open.


  • What should you do for a person who has been accidentally shocked by electricity?
  • A person with electric shock (assuming the shock doesn't severely damage the body) often dies from the heart going into ventricular fibrillation. Such a person needs CPR and it should be performed in the regular fashion. If CPR begins quickly and if a defibrillator arrives quickly this person has an excellent chance of survival.


  • I want to know what the current teachings are on helping a choking victim. I have heard conflicting information on back blows for an adult. Is it still recommended, or discouraged?
  • The first action to take is the Heimlich maneuver. This should be done in adults instead of back blows since back blows may lodge the foreign body further down the windpipe. Back blows are the first thing to do only in infants who are conscious. In doing the back blows the infant should be in a face down position, ie the head is lower than the body.


  • What if the victim vomits?
  • Vomit is obviously unpleasant. If it happens (and it may in one out of 20 cardiac arrests) merely turn the head to the side and wipe out the vomit as best you can with your finger.


  • If someone has an asthma attack and collapses, what should a person do? Will CPR help?
  • If someone collapses from an asthma attack, it is because he or she is not getting enough oxygen. This is because all the lung's small airways have narrowed and are not allowing enough air to reach the air sacs. Mouth to mouth respiration may help a little. The real need is to get this person to an emergency department so that the patient can receive medications and emergency endotracheal intubation (a tube in the main airway).


  • What are some of the causes of CPR being used for in infants and children?
  • Usually CPR in infants and children is performed for respiratory arrest such as severe asthma. Ventricular fibrillation is rare in children but very common in older adults.


  • In regards to administering the Heimlich Maneuver to a victim while they are lying down. Should the head be facing up, as when administering CPR (in order to clear the airway), or to the side?
  • The victims head should be facing up with the victim on his/her back. Since the airway is blocked you shouldn't spend much time positioning the head. The Heimlich maneuver is the most important thing to do and should unblock the airway.


  • What if I'm not sure whether I feel a pulse in the neck of the victim?
  • Go on to the next step of CPR and give chest compressions.


  • If a person moves when I do CPR should I stop?
  • Yes, if a person moves his arms or legs they probably don't need CPR.


  • When should I stop CPR?
  • When help arrives to take over, or the victim starts to move.


  • What chance does the person (on whom I perform CPR) have of surviving?
  • If you do CPR on a person whose heart has stopped beating there is a 30% chance the person will live if a defibrillator can arrive within several minutes to shock the heart.


  • If a pregnant women chokes should I do the Heimlich Maneuver or can it harm the baby?
  • You should do the chest thrust in a very pregnant woman. This is like the Heimlich except you grab around the middle chest instead of the upper abdomen.

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