When someone’s heart stops beating during a cardiac arrest, blood is no longer pumped around the body. But if you can keep circulation moving until help arrives, you can boost their chances of survival.
1 Check for a response by gently shaking their shoulders. If they don’t respond, call for help but don’t leave them. Tilt their head back, then lift their chin. Check if the person is breathing normally by looking for chest movements, listening for breathing and feeling for breath on your cheek. Look, listen and feel for 10 seconds.
2 If the person isn’t breathing, is gasping, or if you’re not sure if their breathing is normal, start CPR. Push hard and fast on the centre of their chest – using the heels of your hands and interlocking your fingers – at a rate of two pushes per second. Give 30 compressions.
3 The gold standard of CPR is to give rescue breaths – where you open their airway, pinch the nose closed and breathe into the mouth. Give two rescue breaths after every 30 chest compressions. But if you’re not trained in CPR, just doing compressions is far better than doing nothing.
Keep going until paramedics arrive, or the person wakes up – in which case, place them in the recovery position. There’s a really helpful video featuring the ex-footballer Vinnie Jones. Visit bhf.org.uk and search ‘hands only CPR’.