In Hands-Only CPR only chest compressions are used. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this procedure from the American Heart Association.

Q. What is Hands-Only CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see an adult suddenly collapse in an “out-of-hospital” setting. It consists of two steps:

1. Call 911 (or send someone to do that).
2. Begin providing high-quality chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest with minimal interruptions.

Q. Who should receive Hands-Only CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR is recommended for adults who collapse suddenly. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends conventional CPR (that is, CPR with a combination of breaths and compressions) for adult victims who are found already unconscious and not breathing normally. Conventional CPR is also recommended for victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems.

Q. Do responders need to take a training course to learn how to do Hands-Only CPR?

A. CPR is a psychomotor skill. AHA continues to recommend a CPR training course to learn and practice the skills of CPR, including how to give high quality chest compressions. People who have CPR training are more confident about their skills than those who have not been trained (or have not had refresher training in the last 5 years). Even a very short CPR training program done at home, like the AHA’s 22-minutee CPR Anytime program, is helpful.

Q. Do responders still need to learn “conventional” CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing?

A. AHA still recommends that people learn conventional CPR. There are many medical emergencies that cause a person to be unresponsive and to stop breathing normally. In some of these, CPR that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing may provide more benefit than Hands-Only CPR.

Q. Is Hands-Only CPR as effective as conventional CPR?

A. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Conventional CPR may be better than Hands-Only CPR for certain victims, but any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.

Q. How long should someone trained in conventional CPR that includes breathing do Hands-Only CPR before switching to conventional CPR?

A. At this point, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), there is not sufficient data to provide a specific recommendation. Trained rescuers will take over when they arrive at the victim’s side

Q. Will Hands-Only CPR increase the chance of someone taking action in a cardiac emergency?

A. Yes. In a national survey, Americans who have not been trained in CPR within the last 5 years stated that they would be more likely to perform Hands-Only CPR than conventional CPR. In addition, Hands-Only CPR offers an easy-to-remember and effective option for those bystanders who have been previously trained in CPR, but are afraid to help because they are not confident that they can remember and perform the steps of conventional CPR.

Q. What should someone trained in conventional CPR who sees an adult suddenly collapse do?

A. Call 911 and start CPR. If the person is confident in the ability to provide conventional CPR with breathing (30 compressions to 2 breaths, or 30:2 CPR), he or she should provide either conventional CPR or Hands-Only CPR. The responder should continue CPR until an automated external defibrillator (AED) arrives and is ready for use or EMS providers take over care of the victim. If the responder is not confident in the ability to provide conventional CPR, then he or she should provide Hands-Only CPR and continue until an AED is ready for use or EMS providers take over.

Q. Should a responder using an AED that prompts CPR with breathing just give chest compressions?

A. Responders should follow the directions provided by the AED and minimize any interruptions to chest compressions. All victims of cardiac arrest should receive high-quality chest compressions. Responders should push hard and fast in the center of the chest with minimal interruption.


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