CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is indicated in those who are unresponsive with no breathing or only gasps.
The most common cause is a cardiac arrest and ventricular fibrillation (VF) after a heart attack, but there are many other reasons.
Before you start CPR it is important to make sure this is not caused by a respiratory arrest, for instance with something stuck in the patient’s throat. The best place for a patient is on flat on the ground, so after that has been assured, open the mouth and assure yourself there is nothing there. Dentures need to be removed, there is no time for sensitivities; this person is going to die unless you do something about it!
CPR involves chest compressions at a rate of at least 100 per minute. This will help circulate blood by manual compression of the heart between the breast bone and the back. In addition you may provide breaths by either breathing into their mouth or utilizing a device that pushes air into the lungs. Current recommendations place emphasis on chest compressions over artificial respirations at a ratio of 30 to 1 and a method involving only chest compressions is recommended for untrained rescuers:
CPR alone is unlikely to restart the heart; its main purpose is to restore partial flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart.
Successful CPR may prevent brain damage. An electric shock to the heart, termed defibrillation, is usually needed to restore a viable heart rhythm.
If you do your job well, it means you’ll remember for the rest of your life YOU saved a life. You can do it!
(Illustration from RelayHealth, http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/heart_health/ventricular_fibrillation/)