How To Give Effective Chest Compressions


Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death among individuals in the United States. While many individuals are unaware of what to do in a cardiac arrest setting, the general population knows to make an immediate call to 9-1-1. But, what’s next?

Free CPR TrainingEffective chest compressions are the number one, key component in effective CPR. Chest compressions are strong, repeated bursts of pressure to the lower half of the sternum. These compressions create blood flow throughout the body and oxygen delivery to the myocardium and brain.  Important characteristics of chest compressions include their rate, depth and degree of recoil. With adequate CPR performance, a life can be saved.

How to give effective chest compressions

First things first, hand placement. The rescuer should place the heel of their hand directly in the center of the victim’s chest with the heel of the other hand on top so that both hands are parallel and overlapping one another. Once hands are in position, it is important to interlock the fingers to achieve a strong, steady grip.

You are now ready to begin chest compressions. When dealing with adult victims in cardiac arrest, it is ideal for rescuers to perform chest compressions at 100 – 120 per minute. Chest compressions should be performed to a depth of at least two inches, while avoiding larger and more dangerous compression depths over 2.4 inches. While providing CPR, it is equally important to keep chest compression and chest recoil as equal as possible. Rescuers should avoid leaning on the victim’s chest to allow for full chest wall recoil.

Minimizing interruptions throughout the chest compression process is very important. While a victim is in cardiac arrest, total pauses in chest compressions should be minimalized. When two or more rescuers are available, it is ok to switch compressors every two minutes to keep the quality of compressions high.

Continue chest compression-only CPR until additional rescuers with adequate training arrive on scene to adequately take over the task at hand.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid & CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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