CPR Saves Lives: A “How To” Guide

Although it’s May and American Heart Month is in February, it’s never a bad time to refresh on the steps of CPR.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, CPR, is important for several reasons. According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. 350,000 people in the United States die each year due to cardiac arrest.

One common misconception is that a heart attack is the same thing as cardiac arrest. These are not the same thing. A heart attack is a blood circulation issue, while cardiac arrest is an electrical issue. If you suspect somebody is having a heart attack, they should be taken to the hospital. For a person in cardiac arrest, 911 needs to be called immediately and high-quality CPR should be administered.

For the typical adult, 30 chest compressions should be followed by two “rescue breaths” for a ration of 30:2, and 100-120 per minute. If you’ve ever taken a class, or went to any parties in the late 70s, you may be familiar with the catchy tune that is often associated with this, Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.

The depth of compression should be around 2 inches and an AED should be used if available. These are very simple to use as they give directions to the user as to what to do.

Of course, different people require different treatment, so be sure to look on the American Heart Association or the Red Cross website for a full list of duties.

Knowing and remembering how to deliver high-quality CPR can save lives.


Below is a list of seven steps to perform high-quality CPR for an adult, found and provided by the Red Cross.

1 CHECK the scene for safety, form an initial impression and use personal protective equipment (PPE)

2 If the person appears unresponsive, CHECK for responsiveness, breathing, life-threatening bleeding or other life-threatening conditions using shout-tap-shout

3 If the person does not respond and is not breathing or only gasping, CALL 9-1-1 and get equipment, or tell someone to do so

4 Kneel beside the person. Place the person on their back on a firm, flat surface

5 Give 30 chest compressions

  • Hand position: Two hands centered on the chest
  • Body position: Shoulders directly over hands; elbows locked
  • Depth: At least 2 inches
  • Rate: 100 to 120 per minute
  • Allow chest to return to normal position after each compression

6 Give 2 breaths

  • Open the airway to a past-neutral position using the head-tilt/chin-lift technique
  • Pinch the nose shut, take a normal breath, and make complete seal over the person’s mouth with your mouth.
  • Ensure each breath lasts about 1 second and makes the chest rise; allow air to exit before giving the next breath

Note: If the 1st breath does not cause the chest to rise, retilt the head and ensure a proper seal before giving the 2nd breath If the 2nd breath does not make the chest rise, an object may be blocking the airway

7 Continue giving sets of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths. Use an AED as soon as one is available! Minimize interruptions to chest compressions to less than 10 seconds.