What is the proper way to do CPR?


As a Red Cross instructor who teaches CPR and First Aid for my employees, as well as community safety classes, I've been asked quite a few times about my opinion about the "Compression Only" approach to performing CPR upon those in cardiac arrest.

Current Red Cross CPR instruction calls for those rendering aid to give repeating cycles of two breaths, followed by thirty chest compressions. This is intended to force oxygen into the body, then circulate it by working the heart, and should be performed until either an AED device can be deployed or professional rescue personnel can be arrived.

In a memo sent out this week, the Red Cross advised that it could not endorse the use of no-breathing CPR in the place of standard CPR, based upon a lack of sufficient research to validate this new approach:



We recognize that, upon witnessing the sudden collapse of an adult, calling 9-1-1, and providing Compression-Only CPR until an AED is available is an acceptable alternative for those who are unwilling, unable, or not trained to perform full CPR.

The editorial also supports the American Red Cross position that further research is needed. It is important to note that the Red Cross is helping to lead this research through a CPR skill retention study which looks at different educational models and Compression-Only CPR versus full CPR.

Another Red Cross memo warns about the limitations of the no-breath "compression-only" approach:


Q. When should Compression-Only CPR be used?
A. Based on scientific evidence, the American Red Cross supports Compression-Only CPR (continuous chest compressions) as an effective alternative when:
  • a bystander is unwilling, unable, untrained or unsure how to perform full CPR (cycles of chest compressions and rescue breaths) and;
  • a bystander has witnessed the sudden collapse of an adult.
Q. When should Compression-Only CPR not be used?
A. Compression-Only CPR should not be used for infants and children, for an adult whose sudden collapse is not witnessed or when a respiratory emergency may have caused the cardiac arrest.


As always, anyone interested in learning CPR is welcome to contact me. I've arranged classes for individuals and groups which have contacted me in response to invitations made via the blog.

1 Response to "What is the proper way to do CPR?"

  1. west_rhino 2/8/10 12:10
    Welll... tis the difference between the Heart Association and the Red Cross on standards. The ARC tends to be more conservative in its measures and training and all things considered, I can't fault them on that, akin to the number of attempts to stick a vein for whole blood or for a platelet donation on a given appointment.

    To the end of handling things on the frontline, whether you are certified by AHA or ARC, DO SOMETHING, both algorithms spec compressions and (with the emphasis on getting to an AED) get someone to call 911 or make the call your self if you're the only one on the scene.

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