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How to perform CPR

When you perform CPR, you should compress the chest 100–120 times a minute. Did you get it right?

CPR being performed during an RNLI casualty care exercise

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

When someone is in need of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), every second counts.

If a person is unconscious and stops breathing, they can die within minutes. Knowing how to perform CPR can be a lifesaver (our lifeguards have even used CPR to save lives when they're off-duty). But just 32% of cardiac arrest victims get CPR*.

Scarborough Crew Member Jason Hedges has been working as a paramedic with Yorkshire Ambulance Service for 10 years. Having had to perform CPR in his day job and as a crew member, he knows what you need to do to save a life.

‘I was part of a team that attempted to resuscitate a man who entered the water after his dog. This resulted in a Bronze Medal for the helm and a commendation for the crew and me.’

Sadly, on that occasion the crew’s attempts to save the man were unsuccessful. But no one could say they didn’t try.

Brush up on your own CPR skills with this simple guide.

Jason's step-by-step guide to hands-only CPR

Crew Member and Paramedic Jason Hedges

Photo: RNLI/Jason Hedges

Crew Member and Paramedic Jason Hedges
  1. If you see someone collapse or unconscious and not breathing, call 999 before performing CPR. Always check the area for danger first.
  2. Place the heel of your hand in the centre of the chest, on the lower half of the sternum. Place your other hand on top and interlock your fingers.
  3. Lean over the patient and straighten your arms. Press down 5–6cm at a rate of 100–120 times per minute. Ensure you allow the chest to come up fully after each press. If there are a few people around, try to swap over every 2 minutes to prevent tiredness.
  4. Keep going until help arrives or there are signs of life from the patient. These could be coughing, moving limbs or moaning.