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Blog - Hands Only CPR

This article could save a life! Do you know hands-only CPR?

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Currently, there is a lot of confusion about when hands-only CPR should be performed and by whom. Let's start at the beginning. Hands-only CPR was approved by the American Heart Association in their 2005 update but not talked about much until recently. It was discovered that many people wouldn’t perform CPR on people they didn’t know because they were worried about diseases being transmitted while breathing into the patient through mouth-to-mouth.

What is hands-only CPR?

CPR hand placement


Hands-only CPR is performed by placing one hand in the center of the cardiac arrest victim’s chest and then placing your second hand on top of the first as seen in the picture to the right. You then push on the chest hard and fast. Try for at least 100 pushes per minute and pushing down at least two inches. Keep going until further help arrives, you become too tired to continue, or if it becomes unsafe to stay with the person in cardiac arrest.

Who should perform hands-only CPR?

Hands-only CPR is for people who haven’t learned how to perform CPR with breathing or for someone who has learned it but doesn’t have a breathing device to use. In most cardiac arrest victims, there is still enough oxygen in the blood to support the patient until additional help arrives.

If someone has been trained in CPR doing compressions and giving breaths with a breathing device, they should follow their training. It is better for the person in cardiac arrest to have both breathing and compressions, but the adage of “Doing something is better than doing nothing” certainly applies in this situation.

When should hands-only CPR be performed?

Remember to first call 911 to get an ambulance on the way and then make sure it is safe to approach the person. Hands-only CPR should only be performed on an unconscious and unresponsive person who is in cardiac arrest. Determining if someone needs CPR is easy even for the untrained person. If you see someone who appears unconscious, gently shake them while yelling “Can you hear me, are you ok?” If you don’t get a response, then look to see if the person is breathing by watching for the chest to rise and fall. If you don’t see the chest move within ten seconds, immediately start hands-only CPR.

If an AED is available, should I use it while performing hands-only CPR?


Yes! CPR only “buys time” for the person in cardiac arrest to receive treatment. One of the most effective treatments for cardiac arrest is defibrillation which is provided by an AED. Turn the AED on as soon as possible, and it will instruct you on what to do. If the AED is properly managed and maintained, it should include a breathing device along with everything else you will need.

Key takeaways

• Hands-only CPR is easy to perform by non-trained people and saves lives
• Use an AED as soon as it becomes available
Visit the American Heart Association to view videos and learn more about hands-only CPR
Take an approved CPR class with us to learn all about the proper way to perform CPR with breathing


CPR & First Aid CTA



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