Hi, I’m Norman Swan. People often ask me about CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, because they’ve got an aversion to giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Well, in cardiac arrest these days, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is not absolutely necessary. What’s important are chest compressions, and they’ve got to be fairly firm chest compressions.

And by the way, bystander resuscitation saves lives. It’s a really important thing to do, and it’s very straightforward.

How to do bystander resuscitation

So you’ve got to lie somebody flat. Make sure their mouth is clear, so there’s no rubbish in their mouth. Lie them flat.

And you compress the chest, and you compress it 100 times a minute in the centre of the chest, just here, right where the bony bit is in the middle.

How hard do you compress the chest?

And you try and compress it to about third by a third. So upper third of the distance from the ground up to the top of the chest. So it’s a fairly firm press, and it’s 100 a minute. Some people say you should sing “Staying Alive” to yourself, if you’re feeling, essentially, if you’re feeling cheerful when you’re actually resuscitating somebody, but that’s the sort of beat.

And it’s that sort of beat that you’ve got to do really hard, and you yell for somebody to call an ambulance. Hopefully there’s somebody else around. And you can actually do that for quite a long period of time, assuming that you’re strong enough to do it. If there’s nobody around, somebody will turn up. People have gone on for 20 minutes and still saved lives. So that’s the way to do it.

Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist

Last Reviewed: 08/10/2020

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