How to do CPR on an adult
If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you
need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR straight
away. Learn what to do.
What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It combines chest
compressions and rescue breaths to give a person the best chance of
survival following a cardiac arrest. If an adult is unresponsive
and not breathing normally, you need to call 999 or 112 for
emergency help and start CPR straight away.
Watch our video - Adult CPR
What to do
1. If you find someone collapsed, you should
first perform a primary survey. If you
have established from this that they are unresponsive and not
breathing, you should ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency
help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a
defibrillator, if available.
- • If you are on your own, use the hands-free speaker on a phone
so you can start CPR while speaking to ambulance control.
- • Do not leave the casualty to look for a defibrillator
yourself. The ambulance will bring one.
2. Start CPR. Kneel by the casualty and put the
heel of your hand on the middle of their chest. Put your other hand
on top of the first. Interlock your fingers making sure they don't
touch the ribs.
Keep your arms straight and lean over the casualty. Press down
hard, to a depth of about 5-6cm before releasing the pressure,
allowing the chest to come back up.
3. Repeat the compressions 30 times; at a rate
of 100-120 compressions per minute.
- • The beat of the song ‘Staying Alive’ can help you keep the
4. After 30 compressions, you need to give two
rescue breaths. To do this, open the airway by placing one hand on
the forehead to tilt the head back and use two fingers from the
other hand to lift the chin.
5. Take the hand from the forehead and pinch
the soft part of the nose closed. Allow the mouth to fall open.
With the head still tilted, take a breath in and place your mouth
over the casualty’s forming a seal. Blow into their mouth for one
second, until the chest rises. Take your mouth away and watch the
- • If the chest doesn’t rise, check the airway is open.
- • If you are not trained or do not feel comfortable performing
rescue breaths, give continuous chest compressions.
6. Continue to perform CPR, alternating 30
chest compressions with two rescue breaths, (30:2) until:
- • emergency help arrives and takes over
- • the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe
- • you are too exhausted to continue (if there is a helper, you
can change over every one-to-two minutes, with minimal
interruptions to chest compressions)
- • a defibrillator is ready to be
7. If the helper returns with a defibrillator,
ask them to switch it on and follow the voice prompts while you
continue with CPR.
8. If the casualty shows signs of becoming
responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starts to
breathe normally, put them in the recovery
position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give
CPR again if necessary.
- • If you have used a defibrillator, leave it attached.