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When To Perform CPR: 6 Situations When CPR is Needed

When to Perform CPR

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May 24, 2022

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Knowing when to perform CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is as important as knowing the basic life saving skills to give high-quality CPR. It’s not easy to determine whether or not CPR is required in an emergency. This is entirely understandable. If you know how to look for signs that someone needs CPR, you can cut out the speculation and respond quickly. This guide will discuss a few simple ways to identify if someone requires CPR. In addition, we will discuss things to look out for when deciding to administer CPR on a victim.

When to Perform CPR?

If you see someone having a cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, or lying lifeless, these are obvious signs that something isn’t right. However, several medical issues could be at play, and CPR may not be an appropriate response. Therefore, it’s crucial to call 911 right away and discuss the situation.

Breathing and pulse are the two critical factors in determining if someone needs CPR or not. If a person isn’t breathing or doesn’t have a pulse, you need to perform CPR immediately. Make every second count because a lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes. Call 911 and begin chest compressions and rescue breathing until the emergency services arrive. Here are the situations where a victim might need CPR.

when to perform cpr
  1. When Someone Suddenly Collapses

If a person collapses in front of you, check for breathing and a pulse. If the victim is breathing normally, call 911. Put the victim in the recovery position and observe while waiting for the emergency services. If the victim is not breathing normally, call 911 and start CPR immediately. Perform 30 chest compressions at 100-120 compressions per minute, followed by two mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Use your body weight to adequately compress and watch if the chest rises. Continue doing CPR until the victim starts breathing or until emergency services arrive.

2. When someone is unconscious 

If you see an unconscious victim, try to wake the victim. If unsuccessful, check if the victim is breathing normally or has a pulse. If there’s no pulse, the victim’s heart may have stopped. The American Heart Association and Emergency Cardiovascular Care recommend that you begin CPR if the person is unresponsive. If their condition becomes unstable because you did not intervene, the victim may lose control of their breathing.

3. Breathing Problems

No breathing or abnormal breathing may call for CPR. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, they may continue to breathe for a while. If they start gasping for breath, You should begin performing CPR right away. Perform 30 chest compressions at 100-120 compressions per minute, followed by two mouth-to-mouth breathing.

when to perform cpr

4. Electrocution Injuries

If you witness an electrical injury, call the emergency services team and do not touch the victim. Instead, try to kill the power source or transfer the victim to a safe, firm, flat surface. If the victim is not breathing, coughing, or doesn’t show any movement, CPR is needed to increase the chance of survival. However, if the victim is breathing normally and has a pulse, put them in a recovery position and wait for the emergency medical team.

5. Drowning 

This is another situation where CPR is needed to increase the chances of survival. Due to the conditions of near-drowning, the American Heart Association recommends that rescuers deliver two rescue breaths first and then begin the cycles of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing as directed in the CPR guidelines. Perform 30 chest compressions at 100-120 compressions per minute, about 2 inches deep, followed by two breaths.

6. Drug Overdose, Exposure to Smoke or Inhalants

Check for breathing and a pulse. If the person is unconscious but has normal breathing, place them gently on their side in the recovery position. Injuries of this nature might call for rescue breathing and chest compressions.

When should you not perform CPR?

During emergencies like cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest, most people want to respond by rushing to the incident area and trying to help the victim immediately. But this is not always the best way to help. There are situations where you could put yourself in danger. Some of these situations are:

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If the scene is hazardous

When the area is too dangerous, you may not be the best person to help. For example, if there’s a fire or car accident on the road, you could get hit trying to access the scene. This will create more chaos. If you are trying to respond, make sure that the area is safe. If it’s hazardous, you can still help by calling the emergency medical services. Stay close until emergency services can take over.

When something seems suspicious

If you notice a person lying down and feel that something isn’t right, your instincts could be right. But, unfortunately, some criminals or offenders often prey on helping people like you by staging a fake accident. So if you are alone and you suspect that something isn’t right, call 911 or seek the assistance of someone on the scene.

When the victim is breathing normally

If a cardiac arrest victim is breathing normally, you don’t need to perform CPR. Oxygen-rich blood is still getting to their brain, and the heart muscle is functioning for the time being. So if a victim is still breathing, just put them in a recovery position, call 911 and wait for healthcare providers to arrive. Observe the victim. If the condition worsens while you are waiting for advanced life support, start CPR to increase the chance of survival.

When to Stop CPR?

Deciding to stop CPR has to be determined depending on the emergency. If you’re administering CPR and see apparent signs of life, such as responsiveness, normal breathing, or coughing, stop giving CPR. Other situations where you need to stop CPR are as follows:

  • When there’s a fire, the traffic gets dangerous, or a storm.
  • When the emergency medical services arrive to take over.
  • When an Automated External Defibrillator becomes available. 
  • If you feel exhausted. 

When Do You need to Perform Hands-Only CPR?

Hands-Only CPR is CPR without rescue breathing. It is recommended for use by untrained bystanders who see an adult suddenly collapse in an out-of-hospital setting. Hands-only CPR may reduce the time to initiation of CPR and deliver a greater number of uninterrupted chest compressions for the first few minutes after the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. 

Take an American Heart Association certification course in CPR and First Aid, to learn CPR. You will know how to respond to various emergencies and use an AED or Automated External Defibrillator.

Key Takeaway

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a basic life saving technique that restores normal breathing and heart rhythm of a cardiac arrest victim caused by a heart attack or near-drowning. However, it’s not easy to determine whether or not CPR is required in an emergency if you don’t assess carefully. 

  • Do CPR when someone collapses, is unconscious, or got electrocuted
  • No breathing or limited breathing may call for CPR.
  • Other situations that may need CPR are drowning, drug overdose, and exposure to smoke.
  • During high-quality CPR, the American Heart Association recommends performing 30 chest compressions, about 2 inches deep, followed by two mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 
  • Do not perform CPR if the victim is breathing normally when something is not right, and if the area is dangerous.
  • The American Heart Association recommends using hands-only CPR for untrained bystanders.