How to Decide When to Perform CPR

How to Decide When to Perform CPR

Performing CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) can be a life-saving skill, but knowing when to perform it is crucial. In this article, we’ll delve into the critical aspects of deciding when to perform CPR. We’ll explore various scenarios, signs, and guidelines to help you make informed decisions during emergencies. Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a concerned bystander, understanding when to perform CPR can make a significant difference in someone’s chances of survival.

What is CPR?

Before we dive into when to perform CPR, let’s ensure everyone understands what CPR entails. CPR is a life-saving technique used in emergencies when someone’s heartbeat or breathing has stopped. It involves a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths, with the goal of maintaining blood circulation and oxygen supply to the vital organs until professional medical help arrives.

Recognizing the Need for CPR

One of the most critical aspects of deciding when to perform CPR is recognizing the signs that someone may need it. These signs can be subtle or obvious, but it’s essential to stay vigilant. 


When you encounter someone who is unresponsive, the first step is to try and wake them up. Shout their name, tap their shoulder, and check for any response. If they don’t respond, it’s time to take action.

Absence of Normal Breathing

If the person is not breathing or is breathing irregularly (gasping), this is a red flag. Normal breathing should be consistent and rhythmic. If you’re unsure, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

No Pulse

Checking for a pulse is a crucial part of determining when to perform CPR. If you can’t find a pulse or you’re uncertain, it’s time to start CPR immediately.

Bluish or Gray Skin Color

A person with oxygen deprivation may exhibit a bluish or grayish skin color, particularly around the lips and fingertips. This is a sign that their oxygen levels are dangerously low.

When to Perform CPR

Now that you know the signs to look for let’s discuss when it’s appropriate to perform CPR.

When to Perform CPR on Adults

The “No Breathing, No Pulse” Rule

For adults, the general rule of thumb is the absence of breathing and a pulse. If an adult is unresponsive, not breathing, and has no pulse, it’s time to initiate CPR. Remember, in a high-stress situation, it’s better to act than to hesitate.

Use Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Many public places are equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). If one is available, use it. AEDs can analyze the heart’s rhythm and provide clear instructions on when to administer shocks if necessary.

When to Perform CPR on Children

Performing CPR on children requires some variations from adult CPR. Here’s when you should consider it:

Unresponsiveness and No Normal Breathing

If a child is unresponsive and not breathing normally, start CPR. Remember, children’s bodies are smaller and more fragile, so adjust your technique accordingly.

When to Perform CPR on Infants

Infants are even more delicate, and CPR for them has distinct differences:

Unresponsiveness and No Breathing

If an infant is unresponsive and not breathing, start CPR. Use gentle pressure and a different hand placement compared to adult and child CPR.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I be sued for performing CPR on someone?

As long as you act in good faith and within your level of training, you are protected from legal liability. However, it’s crucial to stay up to date with the law, as it may change.

 What if I’m not trained in CPR?

While it’s always best to have proper CPR training if you witness someone in cardiac arrest and are unsure of your skills, it’s still better to attempt CPR than do nothing. Remember, even basic chest compressions can make a difference.

How can I get CPR training?

You can contact local hospitals, community centers, or the American Red Cross for information on classes and certification. You can also contact CPR Classes Near Me for the best CPR training in your area.


Knowing when to perform CPR is a vital skill that can save lives. Remember the critical signs of unresponsiveness, absence of normal breathing, and the lack of a pulse. Don’t hesitate to act in a cardiac emergency. Performing CPR promptly can make all the difference. If you’re uncertain about your skills, consider getting certified in CPR to be better prepared for emergencies. Ultimately, the decision to perform CPR is one that can mean the difference between life and death, and it’s always better to be prepared to take action when it’s needed.

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