How do I know when to use CPR?

Learn how to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest, when to start chest compressions and why you need to call 9-1-1 immediately. Watch this video with Debbie Licht, RN from Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center.
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
If a person is unresponsive and not breathing you need to start cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) right away. Gasping is not breathing!  By unresponsive I mean appears lifeless, doesn't move or respond when shoulder is tapped. Yell for someone to call Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and get an an automated external defibrillator (AED).  An AED applied fast may restart the heart. Don't worry, AEDs are user friendly.

Understand that when a victim's heart has stopped pumping blood (cardiac arrest), permanent brain damage can begin in four to six minutes, so you must act fast.

Cardiac arrest can strike at any age and may be caused by many conditions, including heart attack, suffocation, allergic reaction, drowning, choking, or electric shock.
Doc's First Aid Guide: Read It Before You Need It

More About this Book

Doc's First Aid Guide: Read It Before You Need It

In a medical emergency, time is of the essence. "Doc's First Aid Guide" is an illustrated, first-aid pocket handbook designed to be used as a quick reference and includes the latest CPR guidelines....

Continue Learning about First Aid Techniques

How do I give rescue breaths to an infant when performing CPR?
American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
After giving 30 chest compressions, give 2 rescue breaths, covering the infant’s mouth and nose wi...
More Answers
What should I do before providing first aid?
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
You should do the following before providing first aid:Check to make sure the scene is safe before...
More Answers
What is the proper technique for spine boarding?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
Spine boarding is a technique that is used to transport an athlete for emergency care whenever a cer...
More Answers
How do you perform CPR chest compressions on an infant?
American Red CrossAmerican Red Cross
Give 30 chest compressions using the pads of these fingers to compress the chest.  Compress the c...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.