Learn life-saving first aid with St John Ambulance Cymru

CPR for adults

What to do

There is separate guidance on how to perform CPR on an infant or child. For CPR on an adult please follow the steps below:

Step 1  

If you find an adult collapsed or unresponsive, you should first perform a  primary survey.  Do not open their airway and do not place your face close to theirs to check for breathing.  

If this shows that they are unresponsive and not breathing, shout for help. Ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator, if available. 

  • Ask your helper to put the phone on speaker and hold it out towards you, so they can maintain a 2m distance 
  • If you are on your own, use the hands-free speaker on a  phone so you can start CPR while speaking to ambulance control 
  • Do not leave the casualty to look for a defibrillator yourself, the ambulance will bring one. 
Step 2  

Before you start CPR, use a towel or piece of clothing and lay it over the mouth and nose of the casualty. 

Kneel by the casualty and put the heel of your hand in the middle of their chest. 

Put your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers making sure they don't touch the ribs. 

Keep your arms straight and lean over the casualty. Press down hard, to a depth of about 5-6cm before releasing the pressure, allowing the chest to come back up (this is called a compression). 

  • You will need to give continuous compressions
  • The beat of the song 'Staying Alive' can help you keep the right rate 
  • Do not give rescue breaths
Step 3  

Continue to perform CPR until:   

  • emergency help arrives and takes over 
  • the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally
  • you are too exhausted to continue - if there is a helper, you can change over every one-to-two minutes with minimal interruptions to chest compressions 
  • defibrillator is ready to be used. 

This guidance has been adjusted for Covid-19 so may not be what you have previously learned or are used to.


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