Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique that can mean the difference between life and death in critical situations. Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a concerned bystander, knowing how to perform CPR correctly can make all the difference when someone’s heart stops beating. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the essential steps of CPR.

Why CPR Is Important

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand why CPR is so crucial. When a person’s heart stops, their brain and other vital organs can quickly suffer irreversible damage without oxygen. CPR helps maintain blood flow and oxygenation to these vital organs until professional medical help arrives.

The Basic Steps of CPR

Remembering the five basic steps of CPR can guide you through the process:

Step 1 – Assess the Situation

  1. Check for Safety: Ensure the area is safe for both you and the victim before approaching.
  2. Check Responsiveness: Gently tap the victim and shout “Are you okay?” If there’s no response, proceed to the next step.

Step 2 – Call for Help

  1. Call 999 (or Emergency Services): If you’re alone, perform CPR for about two minutes before calling for help. If others are present, instruct someone to call for help immediately.

Step 3 – Start Compressions

  1. Position the Victim: Lay the victim flat on their back on a firm surface.
  2. Kneel Next to the Victim: Position yourself at the victim’s side.
  3. Interlock Your Hands: Place the heel of one hand on the centre of the victim’s chest, just below the nipple line. Place the other hand on top, interlocking your fingers.
  4. Use Your Body Weight: Position your shoulders directly over your hands and keep your arms straight. Use your upper body weight to press down hard and fast on the chest. Compressions should be at least 2 inches deep at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
  5. Allow Full Chest Recoil: Allow the chest to fully recoil between compressions without lifting your hands off the chest.
  6. Continue Compressions: Keep performing compressions until professional help arrives or the victim starts to show signs of life.

Step 4 – Give Rescue Breaths (If Trained)

If you’re trained in CPR and comfortable giving rescue breaths:

  1. After 30 compressions, open the victim’s airway by tilting their head back and lifting their chin.
  2. Pinch the victim’s nose shut and give two slow, full breaths, each lasting about 1 second.
  3. Watch for the chest to rise with each breath.
  4. Continue with cycles of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths.

Step 5 – Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

If an AED is available, use it as soon as possible. Follow the device’s instructions for attaching the pads and delivering a shock if advised.

Remember These Key Points

  • CPR should be performed on a firm surface, and compressions should be at least 2 inches deep.
  • Don’t interrupt compressions for more than 10 seconds.
  • Continue CPR until professional medical help arrives or the victim shows signs of life.

Training and Certification

It’s highly recommended that you receive formal CPR training and certification to ensure you’re prepared to perform CPR correctly and confidently.  Find an accredited course so you can be sure you are receiving quality training from a competent provider. Your certification will be valid for three years.


CPR is a vital skill that can save lives in emergencies. Knowing the steps and being prepared to take action can make all the difference when every second counts. Remember to stay calm, assess the situation, and perform CPR to the best of your ability while waiting for professional help to arrive. You can learn how to carry out CPR effectively, along with other life-saving skills, on our Accredited Emergency First Aid at Work Course. By learning and practising CPR, you can become a crucial link in the chain of survival, increasing the chances of a positive outcome for someone in need.

Published On: September 6th, 2023