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Feature Article

Hands-only CPR Saves Lives

Each year, approximately 356,000 people in the U.S. suffer sudden cardiac arrest in their homes, workplaces or communities. Though CPR can double or triple chances of survival, bystanders provided CPR only about 40% of the time.

“Given the opportunity to save a life, it would be ideal if more people were prepared to give CPR,” said Brandi Young, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing education. Young has been a Basic Life Support instructor with the American Heart Association for more than 15 years and serves as program manager for Samaritan’s Simulation & Life Support Education program.

“Bystander CPR is much less complicated than what many people learned a decade or two ago,” Young said. “Hands‑only CPR training is recommended, 911 emergency dispatchers are able to guide you through CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) use in an emergency situation, and AEDs are becoming more common in public locations.”

If a teen or adult collapses, is unconscious, lifeless and not breathing, they may have had a sudden cardiac arrest. To potentially save their life and brain function CPR should be started right away. It is best to take part in a training, but knowing the basics is worthwhile.

Hands-only CPR Basics

  • Start CPR immediately. If you are the only other person there, and if you have a cell phone, dial 911 on speaker phone and set it down next to you while you begin CPR. If others are nearby, instruct someone to call 911 and get an AED if one is available.
  • If the victim is on a soft surface, put them on the floor or ground. Get directly over the victim. Put the heel of one hand over their breastbone, put your other hand on top of the first and keep your arms straight as you push hard and fast on the center of the chest until help arrives.
  • It is important to push with about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. For reference, a song with the right tempo is “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
  • Do not leave the victim to go get an AED. If someone brings you an AED, ask them to turn it on while you continue CPR.
  • The AED will immediately begin giving instructions (audio and/or visual) on how to use the device to give the victim’s heart an electric shock. If someone is with you, continue chest compressions while another person follows the instructions to place the pads of the AED on the victim. If you do not have help, pause chest compressions only very briefly to follow the instructions. Make sure no one is touching the victim as the AED shock is delivered.
  • Continue chest compressions and following the instructions of the 911 operator and the AED device until help arrives or the victim is breathing.

See a Demonstration of Hands-only CPR

Hailey Baker, RN at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital demonstrates how to perform Hands-only CPR.