If you need immediate help,
please dial 911

How To Help Someone Who is Not Breathing

Call 911

Carefully place person on the floor. Firmly call person's name (DO NOT SHAKE PERSON). Perform CPR.
If the person has normal breathing, coughing, or movement, DO NOT begin chest compressions (may cause heart to stop)

CPR

  • Check for responsiveness. Tap the person gently. See if the person moves or makes a noise. Shout, "Are you OK?"
  • Call 911 if there is no response. Shout for help and send someone to call 911. If you are alone, call 911 and retrieve an AED (if available), even if you have to leave the person.
  • Carefully place the person on their back. If there is a chance the person has a spinal injury, two people should move the person to prevent the head and neck from twisting.
  • Perform chest compressions:
    • Place the heel of one hand on the breastbone -- right between the nipples
    • Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand
    • Position your body directly over your hands
    • Give 30 chest compressions. These compressions should be fast and hard. Press down about 2 inches into the chest. Each time, let the chest rise completely. Count the 30 compressions quickly: "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30, off."
  • Open the airway. Lift up the chin with two fingers. At the same time, tilt the head by pushing down on the forehead with the other hand.
  • Look, listen, and feel for breathing. Place your ear close to the person's mouth and nose. Watch for chest movement. Feel for breath on your cheek.
  • If the person is not breathing or has trouble breathing:
    • Cover their mouth tightly with your mouth
    • Pinch the nose closed
    • Keep the chin lifted and head tilted
    • Give 2 rescue breaths. Each breath should take about a second and make the chest rise.
  • Continue CPR (30 chest compressions followed by 2 breaths, then repeat) until the person recovers or help arrives. If an AED for adults is available, use it as soon as possible.

If the person starts breathing again, place them in the recovery position. Periodically recheck for breathing until help arrives.

For Children under 8

  • Check for alertness. Tap the child gently. See if the child moves or makes a noise. Shout, "Are you OK?"
  • If there is no response, shout for help. Tell someone to call 911 and get an AED (if available). Do not leave the child alone until you have done CPR for about 2 minutes.
  • Carefully place the child on his or her back. If there is a chance the child has a spinal injury, two people should move the child to prevent the head and neck from twisting.
  • Perform chest compressions:
    • Place the heel of one hand on the breastbone -- just below the nipples. Make sure your heel is not at the very end of the breastbone
    • Keep your other hand on the child's forehead, keeping the head tilted back
    • Press down on the child's chest so that it compresses about 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the chest
    • Give 30 chest compressions. Each time, let the chest rise completely. These compressions should be fast and hard with no pausing. Count the 30 compressions quickly: "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30, off."
  • Open the airway. Lift up the chin with one hand. At the same time, tilt the head by pushing down on the forehead with the other hand.
  • Look, listen, and feel for breathing. Place your ear close to the child's mouth and nose. Watch for chest movement. Feel for breath on your cheek.
  • If the child is not breathing:
    • Cover the child's mouth tightly with your mouth
    • Pinch the nose closed
    • Keep the chin lifted and head tilted
    • Give 2 rescue breaths. Each breath should take about a second and make the chest rise.
  • Continue CPR (30 chest compressions, followed by 2 breaths, then repeat) for about 2 minutes
  • After about 2 minutes of CPR, if the child still does not have normal breathing, coughing, or any movement, leave the child if you are alone and call 911. If an AED for children is available, use it now.
  • Repeat rescue breathing and chest compressions until the child recovers or help arrives

If the child starts breathing again, place him or her in the recovery position. Periodically recheck for breathing until help arrives.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is an emergency lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may happen after an electric shock, heart attack, or drowning.

CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions.

  • Rescue breathing provides oxygen to the person's lungs
  • Chest compressions keep oxygen-rich blood flowing until the heartbeat and breathing can be restored

Permanent brain damage or death can occur within minutes if blood flow stops. Therefore, it is very important that blood flow and breathing be continued until trained medical help arrives.

CPR techniques vary slightly depending on the age or size of the patient. The newest techniques emphasize compression over rescue breathing and airway, reversing long-standing practice.)

Source: National Library of Medicine