To carry out a chest compression:
- Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
- Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.
- Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5 to 6cm (2 to 2.5 inches) on their chest.
- Keeping your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow the chest to return to its original position.
- Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times a minute until an ambulance arrives or you become exhausted.
When you call for an ambulance, telephone systems now exist that can give basic life-saving instructions, including advice about CPR.
These are now common and are easily accessible with mobile phones.
CPR with rescue breaths
If you have been trained in CPR, including rescue breaths, and feel confident using your skills, you should give chest compressions with rescue breaths.
If you’re not completely confident, attempt hands-only CPR instead.
- Place the heel of your hand on the centre of the person’s chest, then place the other hand on top and press down by 5 to 6cm (2 to 2.5 inches) at a steady rate of 100 to 120 compressions a minute.
- After every 30 chest compressions, give 2 rescue breaths.
- Tilt the casualty’s head gently and lift the chin up with 2 fingers. Pinch the person’s nose. Seal your mouth over their mouth, and blow steadily and firmly into their mouth for about 1 second. Check that their chest rises. Give 2 rescue breaths.
- Continue with cycles of 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths until they begin to recover or emergency help arrives.
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a life saving device that can give a casualty’s heart an electric shock, when it has stopped beating normally in a cardiac arrest. By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival.
It is very common that most communities have a Defibrillator installed and this may be within a close proximity of your location. If you have a helper with you, you should ask them to find and bring a Defibrillator, if available (you must ensure that the casualty is not left on their own. If a Defibrillator is not available, you must continue CPR).
Some AED’s are in locked cabinets which require a numerical code to unlock the door. The ambulance service will give the code to the person who makes the initial 999 call.
Before using a Defibrillator, you must ensure there is nothing around the chest area. Removing the following items may not be pleasant and can involve cutting clothing or ripping out any piercings but you must remember that time is crucial at this point and everything must be removed as quickly as possible, if possible. If it is wasting too much time removing the jewellery, then it can be left. This just means the Defibrillator can leave a small burn around the area of the piercing.
- Remove clothing
- Remove any piercing’s from around the area
- Remove a bra (if one is being worn)
Remove any other jewellery around the area
- Assess them for responsiveness
- Call for an ambulance
- Open and clear the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin, if a blockage is seen, sweep it away with two fingers
- Check for normal breathing
- Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the chest, place your other hand directly on top
- Keeping your elbows locked push down on their chest 30 times hard and fast (in your head sing ‘staying alive’ (Beegee’s) or ‘Nelly the Elephant’ as this will give you the rhythm for the compressions)
- After the chest compressions administer 2 rescue breaths
- Start again with compressions
- Don’t give up! CPR can be exhausting but the chest compressions are maintaining life
- If possible use a Defibrillator