CPR Certification Manual: Positioning & Pulse Check

CPR: Pulse Check & Positioning

If the scene safety is ensured and CPR is needed, place the victim on his/her back with the chest facing upwards on a hard surface, such as the floor or ground. Do not use a soft surface like a mattress. This will allow the rescuer to start compressions if needed. If no pulse is detected, begin CPR immediately.


Check the carotid pulse of the unresponsive victim. The carotid pulse is located between the stenocleidomastoid (muscle on the side of the neck) and the trachea (windpipe). Press with 2-3 fingers and feel for a pulse on the side of the neck closer to the rescuer. At the same time, assess the victim for breathing by watching for chest rise and fall.

Checking for a pulse should take at least 5 seconds, but no longer than 10 seconds. If no pulse is detected, activate the emergency response system.


Infants:  Check an infant’s pulse at the brachial artery located in the center of the inner, upper arm.

Children (Ages 1-8):  Check a child’s pulse at the femoral artery located in the inner thigh between the hip bone and pubic bone.