Five Steps in Basic Life Support

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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is used when someone is not breathing normally or does not move in response to being touched or spoken to. If done the wrong way or on someone whose heart is still beating, CPR can cause serious harm. Only do CPR when no one else with more training is present. In that case, do what you can to help. Always call 911 before starting CPR. The following steps are meant to be used on adults only.

Gently shake the person or tap him on the shoulder and shout, “Are you okay?” If he does not respond, do not shake him harder. If there is a spinal injury, shaking could make it worse. Instead, move on to Step 2.

To check if the person is breathing, roll her onto her back on a firm, flat surface. If spinal injuries are suspected, perform a log roll, turning the head, neck and shoulders together as one unit. Kneeling next to the person, place your head next to hers and watch for the rise and fall of her chest. Listen for breath sounds. Feel for breath coming out of the nose or mouth by putting your cheek over them. Do nothing more if the person is breathing. Wait for emergency services to arrive. If the person is not breathing, prepare to perform CPR.

Rescue breaths are not a requirement of CPR. CPR can be just as effective with just chest compressions. Only do rescue breaths if comfortable. To do rescue breaths, the person's head must be tilted back. Pinch the nostrils shut with the thumb and index finger of one hand while using the other hand to tilt the chin upward to keep the airway open. Take a normal breath and put your mouth over his. It should form a tight seal. Blow the breath into his mouth for 1 second. Watch for his chest to rise. Repeat again if you do not see the chest rise.

Begin chest compressions after two rescue breaths if the person is not breathing normally. Check for a pulse in the neck.

Before beginning compressions, remove any clothing from the chest. On your knees next to the person, locate the end of the breastbone. Placing the heel of one hand in the center of the chest between the nipples, put the other hand on top. Lace the fingers together and pull up so that the fingers are not touching the chest. Press down with arms straight and elbows locked. Your shoulders should be over your hands. Use your body weight and compress the chest 2 inches. Let the chest expand between compressions. Do 30 compressions.

Give two rescue breaths after doing 30 compressions. If not doing rescue breaths, continue doing compressions at 100 compressions a minute. CPR has to be continued until help arrives or the person begins breathing normally on her own.

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