Each step of CPR serves an important purpose. Here’s what each one does:
Asking If the Person Is OK
Before attempting CPR, it’s important to make sure the person actually needs it. If the person wakes up when you shake them gently and talk to them, don’t start CPR, but do get medical help right away, especially if they seem confused or are unable to speak.
Even if you end up reviving the person with CPR, they will need to be taken to the hospital by an ambulance as soon as possible. If you don’t succeed, an EMT may be able to resuscitate the person with medical equipment, such as an automated external defibrillator (AED). An EMT may also be able to talk you through performing CPR steps while they’re en route.
Compressing the chest moves blood through the brain, keeping it working until the heart can get started again. It’s critical to keep the blood flowing without interruption. It is possible to revive someone with chest compressions alone (without rescue breathing).
Formerly known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, rescue breathing is intended to use your own breath to fill the person’s lungs with air and restore their ability to breathe.
Rescue breathing has become one of the most controversial steps in CPR. The debate is ongoing about how much is enough (or too much) and whether it’s even necessary.
If you do perform rescue breaths, make sure you know how to do it correctly.