Hands-only CPR can be performed by anyone and learned in as little as a minute – and alleviates some concerns about providing aid
Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to help a person in distress. It’s human nature. We also would do it because we hope that a stranger would do the same for us.
There are some obstacles for some people, however. Take performing CPR, for example. One of the biggest concerns registered by individuals – especially those who haven’t undergone training – is that they’ll do it incorrectly and cause more harm than good. Others are worried about performing the mouth-to-mouth (rescue breathing) component on a stranger.
There’s encouraging news all the way around, though. The American Heart Association now recommends what’s known as “hands-only CPR” in many situations.
Voicing their fears
In a 2016 survey, the AHA asked respondents why they didn’t perform CPR on someone in cardiac arrest despite having the opportunity. The top reason was fear of legal consequences if something went wrong, shared by 31%. The other reasons:
- 28% said their skills weren’t up to date
- 28% said they were afraid they would hurt the person
- 24% said that CPR is too complicated
- 18% said they just didn’t feel confident performing the steps
- 16% said they had no training
- 14% said they didn’t want to give the rescue breaths
- 14% said they didn’t believe it would make a difference
If you look at these statistics, you see that many people refrain simply because they’re unsure – whether it’s lack of training, or even being unsure of whether it will help. This is why it’s so important to know about hands-only CPR.
The benefit of hands-only CPR
Hands-only CPR is CPR without rescue breaths. The AHA recommends it is because it’s very easy to do, it always some of the concerns people have about performing CPR, and it’s effective.
There are only two steps, and you don’t need to have formal training in order to perform hands-only CPR on someone – though training is beneficial. Many individuals can perform this life-saving act after watching a short instructional video online:
You’ll learn the two easy steps:
- Call 911 to summon emergency help
- Push hard and fast in the center of the chest. The minimum rate you should push is 100 beats per minute. How fast is that? Match the beat of the Bee Gees’ classic song “Stayin’ Alive” and you’ve got it.
The AHA says that hands-only CPR performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest for an adult victim has been shown to be as effective as CPR with breaths. That said, full CPR still needs to be done in several cases, including when the victim has been found unconscious for an unknown amount of time, when you know someone has had respiratory failure leading to cardiac arrest, or for pre-teen children or infants.
The key here is oxygen; hands-only CPR works when a victim has enough of it left. When oxygen levels are depleted, rescue breathing is required.
People who have had official CPR training are more likely to provide better chest compressions, but any attempt at CPR is usually better than none at all. The AHA observes that official training and certification can make you more confident about your life-saving skills – especially for infants, children, victims of drowning, or people who collapse due to breathing problems – because you’re also able to administer rescue breaths.
If you know nothing about CPR, you can learn enough to save a life by watching this video. Get complete training and certification, however, for far better and more comprehensive life-saving skills.