According to the British Heart Foundation, there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests a year in the UK that happen outside of hospital where the emergency medical services attempt to resuscitate the victim. A cardiac arrest occurs when a person’s heart goes into a life-threatening rhythm and stops pumping blood around their body and to their brain. It causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing (or stop breathing normally). 

Every minute counts when someone has had a cardiac arrest, and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is one way to help.

In this blog you can find video resources, a step-by-step guide to doing CPR and a round up of useful apps that help alert the emergency services in case of an incident, and to help keep you safe.

If you find someone unresponsive and not breathing, here is what you should do.

Adult CPR

Baby CPR

Step to step guide to CPR

The below has been taken from the British Heart Foundation website and provides a useful step-by-step guide to administering CPR.

Step 1: Shake and shout

If you come across someone who is unconscious, always check for danger and look for risks before you start helping.

Check for a response – gently shake the person’s shoulders and ask loudly ‘are you alright?’

Shout for help – if someone is nearby, ask them to stay as you might need them. If you are alone, shout loudly to attract attention, but don’t leave the person.

Step 2: Check for normal breathing

Someone having a cardiac arrest won’t be breathing, or won’t be breathing normally. They also won’t be conscious.

Keeping their head back, check if the person is breathing normally by looking for:

  • regular chest movements
  • listening for breathing
  • feeling for breath on your cheek.

Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds. Don’t confuse gasps with normal breathing. If you’re not sure if their breathing is normal, act as if it’s not normal.

  • If you’re sure the person is breathing normally, then put them in the recovery position and call 999.
  • If breathing isn’t normal, open their airway. To do this, place one hand on the person’s forehead, gently tilt their head back, then lift their chin using two fingers of your other hand under their chin – when you do this you open their airway.

Step 3: Call 999

If the person is not breathing or not breathing normally:

If you can’t find anyone to help, call 999 before you start CPR.

Step 4: Give 30 chest compressions

  • Kneel next to the person.
  • Place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest. Place your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers.
  • With straight arms, use the heel of your hand to push the breastbone down firmly and smoothly, so that the chest is pressed down between 5–6 cm, and release.
  • Do this at a rate of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute – that’s around 2 per second

Step 5: Give two rescue breaths

  • Open the airway again by tilting the head back and lifting the chin. Pinch the soft part of the person’s nose closed.
  • Take a normal breath, make a seal around their mouth and breathe out steadily.
  • The person’s chest should rise and fall. Keeping the person’s head back and the chin lifted, take your mouth away, take another normal breath, and give a second rescue breath. The two breaths should take no longer than five seconds.

Step 6: Repeat until an ambulance arrives

Repeat 30 compressions and two rescue breaths.

If you’d rather not give rescue breaths then call 999 and deliver hands-only CPR. That’s better than doing nothing.

Keep going until professional help arrives and takes over, or the person starts to show signs of regaining consciousness, such as coughing, opening their eyes, speaking, or breathing normally.

If you’re feeling tired, and there’s someone nearby to help, instruct them to continue.

There are also some great apps available to help you with First Aid or personal safety

  1. British Red Cross App (as well as the Paediatric App)

The British Red Cross app will assist first aiders and prospective first aiders in dealing with First Aid incidents, as it is a flow chart with procedures. It’s also good for on-going learning as you can test yourself.

2. Citizen Aid

Citizen Aid is good as it will assist citizens in keeping themselves safe in various situations, as well as First Aid. It was developed around the time of the London Bridge Attacks so covers all sorts of possible incidents.

3. Good Sam Alerter (you also have Responder but only for suitably qualified First Aiders i.e. FREC 3).

Once downloaded and registered you can send alerts to responders to say you are in distress. It will also give you the location of nearby PAD’s. The caveat to this is that ANY app with PAD locations on, they may not be there or have been used, or indeed there may be PAD’s in the area that are not disclosed on the APP (schools, offices etc.)

4. Life 360

Life 360 is an app that can give you your location to the emergency services as it uses your phone’s location. It was reported a while ago that the Police used it in South Wales to find someone who was in distress.

5. What 3 Words is also a location finder

6. OS Locate gives you a six-figure grid reference to pass to the emergency services

If you would like to become a qualified First Aider, have a look at our First Aid Training pages to find a suitable course.