The ABCs of CPR: A Comprehensive Guide

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique that can make a crucial difference in emergencies when someone's heartbeat or breathing has stopped. Knowing how to perform CPR correctly can increase the chances of survival until professional medical help arrives. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover the ABCs of CPR, which stands for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation, as well as the steps to follow when performing CPR.

1. Check for Safety

Before you begin CPR, ensure the safety of both yourself and the victim. Check the scene for any potential hazards, and make sure the area is safe for both you and the person in need of assistance.

2. Assess Responsiveness

Approach the person and gently tap their shoulder while shouting, "Are you okay?" If they are unresponsive and not breathing normally, it's time to initiate CPR.

3. Call for Help

If someone is available, instruct them to call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If you are alone, provide CPR for approximately two minutes before making the call. It's crucial to get professional medical assistance as soon as possible.

A - Airway

The first step in CPR is to ensure that the person's airway is clear:

  1. Place the person on their back on a flat surface.
  2. Tilt their head backward gently to open the airway. Use the "head-tilt, chin-lift" technique.
  3. Check for any visible obstructions in the mouth or throat. If you see any, carefully remove them.

B - Breathing

Once the airway is clear, check for breathing:

  1. Place your ear close to the person's mouth and nose, and look for chest movement.
  2. Listen and feel for breaths for about 10 seconds. If there are no signs of breathing or only occasional gasps, it's time to start rescue breaths.

Rescue Breaths (If Needed)

  1. Pinch the person's nose shut.
  2. Cover their mouth with yours, creating an airtight seal.
  3. Give two rescue breaths, each lasting about one second and making the chest rise visibly.

C - Circulation (Chest Compressions)

If the person is still unresponsive and not breathing normally, it's time to begin chest compressions:

  1. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the person's chest, just below the nipple line.
  2. Place your other hand on top of the first hand, interlocking your fingers.
  3. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly over your hands.
  4. Begin chest compressions by pushing hard and fast, at a rate of about 100-120 compressions per minute. Allow the chest to fully recoil between compressions.
  5. Continue CPR cycles with 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths. Repeat this cycle until the person shows signs of life or professional help arrives.

Remember to push hard and fast during chest compressions. Don't be afraid to use enough force to compress the chest at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep in adults.

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

If an AED is available, use it as soon as possible. Follow the device's instructions for attaching the electrodes and delivering shocks.


Knowing the ABCs of CPR can make a significant difference in emergencies. Proper CPR technique can help maintain blood flow and oxygen to vital organs, increasing the chances of survival until professional medical help arrives. Consider taking a CPR certification course to gain hands-on experience and confidence in performing CPR effectively. Your knowledge and quick actions could save a life in a critical situation.

 CPR + First Aid Certification

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