Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

CPR is a first aid technique needed when someone has stopped breathing and/or their heart has stopped beating.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is the act of manually pumping the heart via chest compressions while also delivering rescue breaths.

The aim of CPR is to continue to deliver oxygenated blood to the brain and other vital organs while waiting for the heart to be restarted with the help of advanced medical care. 

When should I start CPR?

Every minute counts in a cardiac arrest so as soon as you recognise a cardiac arrest you need to start CPR straight away. In first aid we follow the holy trinity AKA the primary survey, check it out!

I was taught I don’t need to deliver rescue breaths to adults anymore, is this right?

In some first aid courses you will not be taught rescue breaths for adults, however the Australian Resuscitation Council advises that if you feel comfortable delivering them, you should! There is evidence to show that CPR that includes ventilations improves patient outcomes in cardiac arrest.

The reason so many people are no longer teaching mouth to mouth is that it is thought that this may be a barrier to people starting CPR in the first place. If you came across a stranger in cardiac arrest and didn’t feel comfortable providing mouth to mouth that totally ok, continue with compressions only until help arrives. However if it’s a loved one or someone you feel comfortable with you should always deliver rescue breaths.

Is it important to deliver rescue breaths to children?


One of the main causes of cardiac arrest in children is a lack of oxygen so it’s really important to deliver rescue breaths to babies and children who have had a cardiac arrest. 

Cardiac arrest from a lack of oxygen can happen as a result of severe asthma, anaphylaxis, respiratory illnesses, suffocation, choking and other conditions.

Will I break bones while doing CPR?

It is possible that you will break bones, however this is considered an acceptable consequence of CPR. To put it bluntly broken bones can heal, but without starting or continuing CPR the person will have little to no chance of survival. It can be helpful to know that you are less likely to break bones in a baby or child as their ribs are more pliable than adults.

What if I start CPR when someone’s heart is beating, Can I do any damage?

There is not much research in the area however it is considered very unlikely that you would do any harm in this situation.

Should I ever stop CPR?

This is a question we are asked often! There are 4 reasons why you would stop CPR, they are:

1). It is impossible to continue. This may be due to danger or physical exhaustion. CPR is physically demanding in fact us paramedics swap compressors every two minutes to ensure we are still providing effective CPR, you can do this too if you have extra hands on scene.

2). The person responds or starts breathing normally. If this happens keep a close eye on the person, continuing to go through your primary survey as they may rearrest again.

3). A healthcare professional such as paramedics arrives and takes over. It is really important to minimise any interruptions to CPR so continue until the healthcare professional is on the floor with you and lets you know they are ready to take over.

4). A healthcare professional such as a paramedic directs that CPR should be ceased. Although it is always best to start CPR, in some circumstances attempts will not be successful. 

If you want to learn the skills to save a life you know exactly what to do! head to our course page and book in with us now!

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