How to Perform 1-Rescuer CPR: Step-by-Step Guide for Saving Lives

This article will explain why 1 person CPR is important, how it's different from 2-person CPR, when and how to perform it effectively, and address the legal implications and emotional support required for the brave individuals undertaking this life-saving technique.

1 rescuer CPR plays a crucial role in situations where only one person is available to provide assistance. It allows the single rescuer to take immediate action and provide chest compressions and rescue breaths, maintaining blood circulation and oxygenation until professional help arrives. Below is a step-by-step guide to performing 1 rescuer CPR:


  1. Initial assessment: Check the victim for responsiveness by tapping their shoulder and asking, "Are you okay?"
  2. Call 911: If there is no breathing or no pulse, or if you are unsure, begin CPR immediately.
  3. Start Chest Compressions: Push hard and fast, aiming for a compression depth of at least 2 inches at a rate of about 100-120 compressions per minute.
  4. Provide Rescue Breaths: Give two rescue breaths, each lasting about 1 second and causing a visible chest rise.
  5. AED Use: If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, follow the prompts and apply it as soon as possible.
  6. Monitor the victim: Continuously monitor the victim's responsiveness, breathing, and pulse if possible.


Initial Assessment

Ensure the scene is safe for both the victim and the rescuer. Check the victim for responsiveness by tapping their shoulder and asking, "Are you okay?" If there is no response, shout for help and ask someone to call emergency services.


How to assess the person who needs CPR?

Check for breathing and a pulse simultaneously for no more than 10 seconds. If there is no breathing or no pulse, or if you are unsure, begin CPR immediately.


Start Chest Compressions

  • Position the victim on their back on a firm surface.
  • Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim's chest, between the nipples.
  • Place the other hand on top of the first hand, interlocking the fingers.
  • Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
  • Push hard and fast, aiming for a compression depth of at least 2 inches at a rate of about 100-120 compressions per minute.


Give Rescue Breaths

  • Open the victim's airway by tilting their head back and lifting their chin.
  • Pinch the victim's nose closed and make a complete seal over their mouth with yours.
  • Give two rescue breaths, each lasting about 1 second and causing a visible chest rise.

After each set of 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths. Minimize interruptions between compressions and breaths to maintain blood flow.

How to switch between compressions and rescue breaths effectively?

To switch between compressions and rescue breaths effectively, maintain proper hand placement, minimize interruptions, and establish a steady rhythm. Coordinate breaths with compressions by quickly delivering rescue breaths after completing a set of compressions. By following these steps and receiving proper CPR training, you can ensure a smooth and effective transition between compressions and rescue breaths, maximizing the chances of successful resuscitation.


Incorporating AED Use

If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, follow the prompts and apply it as soon as possible. Resume CPR immediately after delivering a shock or if no shock is advised.


Monitoring and Adjusting Technique

Continuously monitor the victim's responsiveness, breathing, and pulse if possible. If the victim shows signs of responsiveness or starts breathing normally, stop CPR and place them in the recovery position.


Child-Specific CPR

Performing CPR on children requires modifications compared to adult CPR.

  • For infants (under 1-year-old), use two fingers for compressions and deliver gentle puffs of air for rescue breaths. infant cpr ratio 1 rescuer is 30:2
  • For older children (1-year-old and above), use the heel of one or both hands for compressions and provide full breaths.
  • Compression-to-breath ratio for 1 rescuer infant CPR is 30:2, but compression-only CPR may be an option for lone rescuers who struggle with breaths.


Hand placement, compression depth, and emotional considerations differ for infants and older children. Obtaining specific training in pediatric CPR is crucial to ensure proper care and increase the chances of a successful outcome when performing 1 rescuer CPR on children.

Blood Pressure Category
Systolic (Upper)
Diastolic (Lower)
Health Risks
Less than 120 mm Hg
and Less than 80 mm Hg
Low risk of heart disease or stroke
Maintain healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, no smoking)
120-129 mm Hg
and Less than 80 mm Hg
Doubled risk of cardiovascular complications
Make lifestyle changes (lose weight if overweight, increase physical activity, limit alcohol)
Hypertension Stage 1
130-139 mm Hg
or 80-89 mm Hg
Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease
Lifestyle changes and potentially medication under doctor's guidance
Hypertension Stage 2
140 mm Hg or Higher
or 90 mm Hg or Higher
High risk; can lead to heart failure, vision loss, dementia
Medication required in addition to lifestyle changes as recommended by doctor
Hypertensive Crisis
Higher than 180 mm Hg
nd/or Higher than 120 mm Hg
Immediate danger of life-threatening complications
Seek emergency medical care immediately
Cardiac Arrest
Heart Attack
Sudden loss of heart function, leading to collapse
Blockage in a coronary artery, affecting blood flow to the heart muscle
Interruption of blood flow to the brain, leading to brain damage
Main Cause
Electrical malfunction of the heart
Blockage in coronary arteries
Blockage or rupture of blood vessels in the brain
Circulation Affected
Entire body
Heart muscle
Brain tissue
105Sudden collapse, unconsciousness, no pulse
Chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath
Sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech/73
Emergency Response
Immediate CPR and defibrillation
Activate emergency medical services, chew aspirin
Activate emergency medical services, FAST assessment (Face, Arms, Speech, Time)
CPR, defibrillation
Thrombolytic therapy, angioplasty, stenting
Thrombolytic therapy, clot retrieval,
Long-term Management
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), medication management
Medication management, lifestyle changes, cardiac rehabilitation
Medication, rehabilitation, lifestyle changes
Dependent on prompt CPR and defibrillation, underlying health conditions
Dependent on extent of heart muscle damage, effectiveness of intervention
Dependent on severity of brain damage, rehabilitation progress
Risk Factors
Previous heart conditions, arrhythmias, electrolyte imbalances
Atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, diabetes
Hypertension, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation

What is CPR?

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a life-saving technique used when someone's heart stops or they stop breathing. It involves chest compressions and rescue breaths to restore blood circulation and oxygenation to the body's organs, especially the brain. CPR buys time until professional medical help arrives. It increases the chances of survival by keeping blood flowing and providing oxygen to vital organs. Immediate initiation of CPR is crucial, as every minute without it decreases the person's survival rate. By learning and performing CPR, you can be a crucial link in saving lives during cardiac arrest situations.


Role Switching in CPR

As the lone rescuer initiates CPR, there comes a point where fatigue may set in, potentially compromising the quality of chest compressions and rescue breaths. Recognizing the importance of maintaining optimal performance, the practice of role switching encourages a seamless transition between rescuers. This strategic exchange ensures that each rescuer remains fresh and capable, sustaining the necessary intensity and precision in the life-saving maneuvers. Emphasizing communication and coordination, role switching embodies the essence of a coordinated response in CPR scenarios, ultimately contributing to the improved chances of survival for the individual in distress.

Key Differences: 1 Rescuer vs. 2 Rescuer CPR

1 rescuer CPR involves a single individual performing both chest compressions and rescue breaths, while 2 rescuer CPR divides the responsibilities between two rescuers. Here are the key differences between 1 rescuer and 2 rescuer CPR:

  • Compressions-to-Breaths Ratio: In 2 rescuer CPR, the standard compression-to-breaths ratio is usually 30:2, meaning 30 chest compressions are followed by 2 rescue breaths. In 1 rescuer CPR, the ratio may be the same or adjusted to 30 compressions without interrupting for rescue breaths.
  • Hand Placement: In 2 rescuer CPR, one rescuer typically performs chest compressions using both hands placed on the center of the victim's chest, while the other rescuer is responsible for delivering rescue breaths. In 1 rescuer CPR, the rescuer can use one or both hands for compressions.
  • Coordination: In 2 rescuer CPR, rescuers need to coordinate their actions and communicate effectively to ensure proper timing and rhythm between compressions and rescue breaths. In 1 rescuer CPR, there is no need for coordination with another rescuer.
  • Fatigue and Switching: In 2 rescuer CPR, rescuers can switch roles periodically to prevent fatigue and maintain effective chest compressions and rescue breaths. In 1 rescuer CPR, the single rescuer may experience fatigue over time due to the continuous performance of both tasks.
  • Task Distribution: In 2 rescuer CPR, one rescuer focuses solely on compressions, while the other rescuer provides rescue breaths. In 1 rescuer CPR, the single rescuer is responsible for both compressions and rescue breaths.


What is the CPR Cycle for 1 Rescuer CPR?

The CPR cycle for 1 rescuer involves 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. This cycle is repeated until professional help arrives or the victim shows signs of responsiveness. In 2 rescuer CPR, one rescuer performs compressions while the other delivers breaths. The CPR cycle is maintained with one rescuer performing compressions while the other rescuer prepares for the next set of breaths. Both techniques aim to maintain blood circulation and oxygenation to vital organs. Following specific guidelines and training is crucial for proper execution of the CPR cycle.


Advantages of 1 rescuer CPR

  • The lone rescuer can start CPR without waiting for additional help, reducing response time and increasing the chances of survival.
  • The rescuer has full control and can adapt the technique to their capabilities and the situation at hand.
  • Being the only rescuer, there is no need for coordination or communication, allowing for quicker decision-making and intervention.


Challenges of performing CPR alone

  • Performing CPR can be physically demanding, and the rescuer may experience fatigue, potentially affecting the quality of compressions over time.
  • In 1 rescuer CPR, interruptions may occur when switching between chest compressions and rescue breaths, leading to reduced blood circulation during those brief pauses.
  • The single rescuer may face challenges in simultaneously managing chest compressions, rescue breaths, and other tasks like calling emergency services or retrieving an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Performing CPR alone can be emotionally taxing, as the rescuer carries the weight of the situation without immediate support from another rescuer.


When to Perform 1 Rescuer CPR?

1 rescuer CPR is applicable and necessary in various scenarios where immediate action is required and additional rescuers are not available. Here are some situations where 1 rescuer CPR becomes crucial:

  1. Home Emergencies: In a household setting, if a family member or loved one experiences sudden cardiac arrest or stops breathing, the person present may need to perform 1 rescuer CPR until emergency medical services arrive.
  2. Public Places: In crowded public areas such as parks, shopping malls, or workplaces, there may not always be multiple trained individuals available to assist in an emergency. In such cases, 1 rescuer CPR allows the bystander to take immediate action and provide life-saving CPR until professional help arrives.
  3. Remote Locations: In remote areas or during outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or boating, access to immediate medical assistance can be limited. If someone experiences a cardiac arrest or respiratory distress, the person accompanying them may need to initiate 1 rescuer CPR while waiting for medical help to arrive.
  4. Transportation: On airplanes, trains, buses, or other modes of transportation, emergencies can occur where immediate CPR is needed. Passengers or crew members who are trained in 1 rescuer CPR can step in and provide life-saving measures until the transportation reaches a location where additional assistance is available.
  5. Workplaces: In certain work environments where there is a lack of trained medical personnel or where individuals work in isolated settings, 1 rescuer CPR is essential. This includes construction sites, remote offices, or warehouses, where the person present may need to initiate CPR until emergency services arrive.


In these scenarios, the presence of a lone rescuer trained in 1 rescuer CPR becomes vital, as they can provide immediate action, maintain blood circulation, and deliver rescue breaths until professional medical help is available. Being prepared and equipped with the knowledge and skills of 1 rescuer CPR allows individuals to step up and potentially save a life when there are no additional rescuers present.

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Blood Pressure Chart by Age

Age Group
Min Systolic/Diastolic
Normal Range
Max Systolic/Diastolic
1-12 months
Consult pediatrician if outside normal range. Cuff sizing is critical.
1-5 years
High BP in children may indicate underlying condition. Lifestyle factors.
6-13 years
Obesity, family history increase risk. Promote healthy habits early.
14-19 years
Adolescent rise normal. Rule out secondary causes if elevated.
20-24 years
Stressors, medications may impact. Start monitoring if high-normal.
25-29 years
Dietary changes, exercise for elevated readings. Birth control effects.
30-39 years
110/77 - 111/78
122/81 - 123/82
134/85 - 135/86
Monitor closely if readings increasing with age.
40-49 years
112/79 - 115/80
125/83 - 127/84
137/87 - 139/88
Lifestyle changes proven to reduce hypertension risk.
50-64 years
116/81 - 121/83
129/85 - 134/87
142/89 - 147/91
White coat effect common. Home monitoring advised.
65+ years
130+ Systolic Risk
Frailty, medications, conditions factored in management.

Legal Implications and Good Samaritan Laws

When performing 1 rescuer CPR, legal protections and responsibilities can vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, many countries have Good Samaritan laws in place to provide certain protections for individuals who provide reasonable assistance in emergency situations, including 1 rescuer CPR.

Moreover, obtaining proper training and certification in CPR is essential. By being trained, individuals can ensure they are providing care within accepted standards and guidelines, reducing the risk of negligence or improper technique. Adhering to the principles taught in CPR training programs helps protect both the rescuer and the person receiving CPR.