CPR + First Aid Certification Manual: Compressions for Adults

CPR: Compressions for Adults

If a victim requires CPR compressions, a rescuer will first have to find a landmark to place his/her hands. Clothing should be removed from the chest to make this area visible. The rescuer should move to the side of the victim.

The heel (palm) of the bottom hand needs to be placed on the sternum (breast bone) along the lower half of the bone (nipple line or slightly below). Then take the heel of the other hand and place it on top of the bottom hand with both arms straight. Next, begin chest compressions by compressing the chest downward at least 2 inches for 30 chest compressions. Each set of 30 compressions will be followed by 2 ventilations (30:2 compression-to-ventilation ratio), which completes 1 cycle. Each compression should allow full chest recoil (the re-expansion of the chest, allowing blood flow to the heart). The goal is to perform 100-120 compressions per minute and at least 5 cycles per 2 minutes before switching partners (in multi-rescuer CPR) to avoid fatigue. Ensure you use your body weight to achieve sufficient compression depth.

Performing CPR correctly can significantly increase the chances of survival until professional help arrives.

Special Note: If the correct hand position cannot be achieved, an alternative technique would be to use the first hand in the same position and the second hand wrapped around the wrist of the first.

Quick Tip: Compress to the beat of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees to achieve between 100-120 compressions per minute.

Compressions are the first step in performing: C-A-B

Circulation (Compressions create the circulation)




Hands only CPR may be recommended if the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as a barrier device, gloves, gown, etc. is not available.  Hands only CPR involves compressions without ventilations.