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Hands-Only CPR – Stayin’ Alive Part 2

Updated October, 2023

In the US alone Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs more than 1,000 times a day. A person suddenly becomes unresponsive, stops breathing and may be gasping. 

In SCA the heart stops pumping blood to the body and beats irregularly in a lethal rhythm called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). Compressions are needed to keep blood circulating to the heart and brain until a Defibrillator can shock the heart back Into a normal rhythm.

If compressions are not initiated a person would suffer irreversible brain damage in as little as 4-6 minutes of SCA.

Thankfully, giving mouth-to-mouth breathing is not necessary for SCA for adults. Ventilations can be delayed until EMTs arrive in an average response  time of 6-8 minutes, or until an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) arrives with a pocket mask.

The problem isn’t lack of oxygen, but the lack of circulation. As long as the SCA is Witnessed and it is an adult, compressions will circulate oxygenated blood to their heart and brain to keep them alive.

Here is an overview of the steps of Hands-Only™ CPR, and an AHA video below. Enrolling in an AHA CPR class to get CPR certification is critical to gain confidence to perform these skills, but let’s jump right in until you can obtain your CPR certification.

Hands-Only™ CPR

(Given in a little more detail here than in Part 1 for those of you that like more specifics)

  1. Make sure the scene is safe!
  2. Tap and shout and if the person is unresponsive, tell someone to Call 911 and get an AED
  3. Look for breathing for 5-10 seconds. If the person is not breathing or only gasping, begin compressions.
  • Kneel besides the person 
  • Place the Heel of One Hand on the Center of the Chest and 
  • Place the Heel of the Other Hand on Top of the First Hand, Then Lace Your Fingers Together and Position Your Shoulders Directly Over Your Hands with Your Arms Straight
  • Push Hard and Fast. Use Your Body Weight to Help You Administer Compressions That Are at Least 2 Inches Deep and Delivered at a Rate of at Least 100-120 Per Minute.
  • Be Sure to Let the Chest fully recoil Between Compressions.
  • Switch with another person every 200 Compressions

When the AED arrives use it immediately.

Continue until you see a person moving and/or breathing.

A helpful video produced by the Sarver Heart Center in Arizona who first coined the term continuous chest compressions, which was later adapted by the AHA as Hands-Only CPR in 2008.

If you have never taken a CPR class you will find it really rewarding earning your first CPR Certification. As San Francisco’s most trusted American Heart Association (AHA) CPR Training site, Revive CPR has been offering CPR classes and BLS certification since 2010.

Practice these skills with us in San Francisco and receive your 2-year AHA CPR certification right after class. 

Get CPR training and learn to give high-quality compressions and deliver breaths with an airway device in the following situations:

  • Children and Infants
  • Drowning victims 
  • Airway obstruction/ unresponsive choking 
  • Head injuries that stop breathing 
  • Acute respiratory arrest such as  associated with smoke inhalation, or drug overdose
  • Not witnessed Sudden Cardiac Arrest 

Note: Mouth-to-mouth breathing is intended for friends and family. Barrier devices like a Pocket mask, rescue Key-chain, or Bag Valve Mask (used in medical settings), are necessary to protect from the potential transmission of disease.

By Roy Gordon, NREMT/ AHA BLS, CPR Instructor

All Classes are Instructor-led. No RQi machines. No VAM.

Revive CPR Training San Francisco

We include a rescue key-chain barrier device (a $10 value) with every AHA CPR class in San Francisco.

Learn more about our American Heart Association CPR certification in San Franciscoand how to save-a-life performing high quality CPR!

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Hands-only CPR is a Trademark of
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