Hands-Only CPR

2 Quick Steps to Save a Life Right Now

A woman doing CPR. (c) Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you come upon a person who is not awake, not responding and is not breathing normally, take these steps to save his life.

The Steps

  1. Call 911
    Either call 911 yourself or direct someone else to do it. Make sure whoever calls 911 asks for an ambulance to respond for a collapsed victim. If the 911 dispatcher is able to give directions, ignore this and follow the directions given by the dispatcher.
  2. Push on the chest
    Put the heel of your hand directly on the center of the chest, between the nipples. Push down about 2 inches (5-6 cm) at a rate of 100-120/minute, about 2 pushes per second.


    If you're by yourself and calling 911 from a cell phone, put the phone on speaker and start pushing on the chest. Don't wait for the dispatcher to answer the call. Keep pushing on the chest even while talking to the dispatcher.

    A person who is not conscious may appear to be sleeping. You can test that by trying to wake her up. Shake her by the shoulders and loudly shout "Are you okay?" If she doesn't respond, call 911. If she is also not breathing appropriately, then start pushing on the chest as described above.

    These guidelines are meant for untrained rescuers. Don't let a lack of training keep you from saving a life. No matter how scary it is to face an emergency like this, if you don't do something, the patient will die. CPR doesn't guarantee the patient will survive, but not doing anything guarantees that a patient in cardiac arrest won't survive.

    If you are a trained rescuer, you may also use these steps for witnessed cardiac arrest, meaning a person who collapses from cardiac arrest right in front of you.

    For adult victims who collapse in front of you, these steps provide the best chance for survival. If an adult victim is choking or has nearly drowned, trained rescuers should follow conventional Adult CPR.

    • For kids less than 1 year old, trained rescuers do Infant CPR
    • For kids 1-8 years old, trained rescuers do Child CPR


      Sayre, M.R., et al."Hands-Only (Compression-Only) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: A Call to Action for Bystander Response to Adults Who Experience Out-of-Hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest. A Science Advisory for the Public From the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee." Circulation. 31 Mar 2008

      Monica E. Kleinman, et al. “2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Part 5: Adult Basic Life Support and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Quality.” Circulation. 2015; 132: S414-S435 doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000259

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