When Should You Administer CPR?

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a lifesaving technique used when someone’s heartbeat or breathing has stopped. This can happen after a drowning incident, a heart attack, or various other scenarios. It combines chest compressions (to keep blood flowing) and rescue breaths (to provide oxygen) to help maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain until more advanced medical help arrives.

At TGH Urgent Care powered by FastTrack, we understand the importance of timely medical response in emergencies like these. When it comes to emergencies, time is of the essence.

The significance of CPR cannot be overstated. It can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. When a person’s heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in just a few minutes; however, if CPR is performed immediately, it can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival. Since most cardiac arrests happen in the home, knowing how to perform CPR is a crucial skill for everyone to learn.

Understanding the Basics of CPR

The ABCs of CPR: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation

CPR follows the principle of ABC, which stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Airway involves opening the patient’s airway using a head-tilt/chin-lift technique. Breathing involves giving rescue breaths to the patient to supply oxygen since they are incapable of breathing on their own. Circulation refers to chest compressions that help maintain the circulation of oxygenated blood to the vital organs.

The Process of Performing CPR

  1. Ensure Safety: Before starting CPR, make sure the environment is safe for both the resuscitator and the victim.
  2. Check Response: Tap the person gently and ask if they’re okay to ensure they need help.
  3. Call for Help: If there’s no response, call your local emergency number or ask someone else to do so.
  4. Open Airway: Lay the person fully on their back and tilt their head back slightly to lift the chin and open the airway.
  5. Check for Breathing: Look for chest motion, listen for breath sounds, and feel for the person’s breath on your cheek and ear.
  6. Begin Chest Compressions: If the person is not breathing, start chest compressions. Kneel beside them and place the heel of one hand in the center of their chest. Place your other hand on top of the first. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
  7. Perform Chest Compressions: Use your upper body weight to compress the chest at least 2 inches deep at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. Allow the chest to fully recoil between compressions. For help, try to keep tempo with the song, “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees.
  8. Give Rescue Breaths: After 30 compressions, give 2 rescue breaths. Tilt the person’s head back slightly and lift the chin, pinch their nose shut, then make a complete seal over the person’s mouth with yours. Blow in for about 1 second to make the chest clearly rise, and give 2 rescue breaths. Then, continue with compressions.
  9. Repeat: Continue the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until further help arrives or if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is ready to use.

Hands-only CPR vs. Traditional CPR

Traditional CPR combines chest compressions and rescue breaths, but there’s another option called hands-only CPR. This method involves continuous chest compressions without giving rescue breaths and can be used by people who have not been fully trained in CPR and are unclear as to how to administer rescue breaths. When performing hands-only CPR, it is essential that emergency services have been called beforehand.

When to Perform CPR

Recognize the Signs of Cardiac Arrest

  • Sudden Loss of Responsiveness: The person does not respond to touch or sound.
  • No Normal Breathing: The person is not breathing, or their breathing may be difficult to detect.
  • No Pulse: No pulse can be felt, indicating that the heart isn’t pumping blood effectively.
  • Sudden Collapse: The person may suddenly fall unconscious and not wake up.
  • Gasping for Air: Sometimes, a person might gasp for air, which is an emergency sign known as agonal respiration. This should not be mistaken for normal breathing.

Understanding Unconsciousness and Abnormal Breathing

Unconsciousness and abnormal breathing are two critical indicators that someone may need CPR. If a person is unconscious, they will not respond to touch or sound. Abnormal breathing, also known as agonal respiration, may sound like gasping or snorting and is a sign of a serious medical emergency. It’s important to note that agonal respiration is not normal breathing and should not delay starting CPR. As always, it is recommended to alter emergency services right away.

Cases When CPR is Necessary

CPR should be started anytime a person is unresponsive and not breathing normally. This could be due to various causes such as drowning, suffocation, drug overdose, severe allergic reactions, and cardiac arrest. It’s recommended to start CPR before the ambulance arrives because every minute that passes without CPR decreases the chances of survival. Remember, doing something is better than doing nothing. Immediate CPR can double or even triple the chances of survival after cardiac arrest.

The Importance of CPR Training

Resources for CPR Training

CPR is a crucial skill that everyone should learn as it not only can save someone’s life but can also provide the knowledge, confidence, and skills to stay calm in a medical emergency. There are numerous resources available for those interested in becoming CPR-certified. The American Red Cross, for example, offers CPR classes both in-person and online. These courses provide comprehensive training on how to perform CPR as well as how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The American Heart Association also provides CPR & AED training. They offer courses for healthcare professionals, workplace and community-based rescuers, and family and friends of patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac death. Some online platforms such as ProTrainings and the National CPR Foundation offer CPR, AED, and first aid certification courses. These platforms provide flexible learning options, allowing you to learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating

Please follow the information above the learn the exact steps that are needed to perform CPR.

For CPR to be effective, rescuers should perform five cycles in two minutes. It’s recommended that rescuers swap after two minutes and five cycles to avoid fatigue.

Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It involves providing high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast at the center of the chest. Always contact emergency services before providing any form of CPR.

Dentures do not typically interfere with the process of administering CPR. However, if they become dislodged, they should be removed to prevent choking.

Good Samaritan laws generally protect those who provide assistance in a medical emergency, but the specifics of these laws will vary by state.

Yes, any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt. Even if you’re rusty, starting CPR with chest compressions could help save a life. As always, contact emergency services before performing CPR.

The risk of disease transmission is extremely low during CPR. However, using a barrier device for rescue breaths can provide additional protection.

Final Thoughts on CPR

Knowing when and how to perform CPR is a vital lifesaving skill. It’s especially critical during a cardiac arrest, where swift action can significantly improve the chances of survival. The importance of understanding how to perform CPR cannot be overstated: it gives you the courage and confidence to take quick, potentially lifesaving action. Taking the time to become familiar with and certified in CPR can save the life of someone in need, and you never know when you might be called upon to save a life.

At TGH Urgent Care powered by FastTrack, we are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week, to provide any necessary treatment following a CPR-administered situation. Our Tampa, FL, area locations operate on a first-come, first-served basis, but if you’d like to reduce your wait time once you arrive, you can sign in ahead of your visit using our On My Way system. We are here to ensure the continuation of care after your heroic efforts.



The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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