What is CPR?

In an emergency situation, CPR – or cardiopulmonary resuscitation – can be a truly lifesaving technique. CPR is an important part of any first aid course, and it is something that everyone should know how to do. Why? Because CPR can provide the means to keep a person alive long enough to receive professional medical attention. The longer that a human being goes without oxygen, the more likely severe damage – and even death – can occur. Knowing CPR – and performing it properly – can mean the difference between life and death. Considering how relatively simple performing CPR is, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t learn how to do it yourself.

How CPR Works

Proper CPR is performed with alternating chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth breathing. This process helps push oxygen into the lungs so that it can go to the brain and keep a person alive. The most common CPR technique that is taught at first aid courses around Australia involves thirty chest compressions and two deep breaths. After that, the rescuer returns to performing chest compressions, then back to giving two more deep breaths. This pattern is maintained until proper help arrives. It is a simple technique, but knowing how to do it properly is key; the only good way to learn is by being taught at a first aid class.

When CPR Is Necessary

CPR can be used in a vast array of different emergency situations. When someone has been drowning, for example, another person can perform CPR on them until the ambulance or other help gets there. A massive heart attack that has rendered a person incapable of breathing can be counteracted using CPR. Drug overdoses are another instance where CPR can save a life. There are literally hundreds of different times when this technique can make a difference. The whole point is to keep oxygen flowing in the injured party’s body long enough for them to get to a hospital.

Why CPR?

A human brain can survive for only an average of five minutes without oxygen before it becomes permanently damaged. When used properly, CPR can dramatically increase a person’s chances of making a full and complete recovery, even after a serious injury or problem. Simply allowing a person to lie still while waiting for help can increase their risk significantly. Also, CPR is a way to take a proactive approach to a frightening and stressful situation. It’s one of the easiest things you can learn that can make a true difference in another person’s life. Taking a periodic refresher course on CPR and other first aid strategies is highly recommended, too, since you hopefully won’t need to use it all that often in your regular life.

To administer CPR:

  • Kneel by the side of the casualty. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the casualtys chest
  • Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand. Interlock the fingers of your hands.
  • Position yourself vertically above the casualty chest and with your arms straight, press down on the sternum 5-6cm.
  • After each compression, release all of the pressure on the chest without losing contact between your hands and sternum. Repeat at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute 30 times.
  • Administer 2 effective rescue breaths
  • Complete 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until:
  1. A health professional tells you to stop
  2. You become exhausted
  3. The casualty is definitely waking up, moving, opening their eyes and breathing normally

The following video from St Johns Ambulance shows you how to conduct CPR