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Prescribing Information and Adverse Event Reporting

Basic life support: Performing CPR[1]

If the casualty is unresponsive and not breathing, there are three critical actions you must take:

  1. Open their airway: Place one hand on the casualty’s forehead and two fingers under their chin. Gently tilt their head back and lift the chin
  2. Call 999 and ask for an ambulance
  3. Perform CPR (short for CardioPulmonary Resuscitation): this involves a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths. It helps to keep the casualty's heart and circulation going in an effort to save their life

If the casualty starts breathing normally again, stop CPR and put them in the recovery position.

To carry out chest compressions:

  • Kneel beside the casualty, level with their chest
  • Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the casualty's chest
  • Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers. Keep your fingers off the ribs
  • Lean over the casualty and lock out your arms so they are straight. Press straight down on their chest by 5–6 cm.
  • Release the pressure without taking your hands away from the chest, so the chest comes back up fully. This counts as one compression
  • Repeat 30 times at a rate of around two compressions a second
  • Now give two rescue breaths

To give rescue breaths:

  • Open the casualty's mouth to check if there are any obvious obstructions
  • Check their airway is still open: tilt the casualty's head gently and lift the chin up with two fingers
  • Pinch the casualty's nose firmly closed
  • Put your mouth to theirs, making sure that your lips form a seal around the opening of their mouth, and blow steadily until the chest rises
  • Move your mouth away and let the chest fall
  • Attempt to give two rescue breaths

Carry on giving 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths for as long as you can, or until help arrives.


  1. St John’s Ambulance. Unresponsive and not breathing adult – CPR. Page last reviewed May 23. VIEW