Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Michael Sayre, chair of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee, notes that CPR-awareness is especially important for older adults.
"The typical victim of cardiac arrest is a 60-year-old man," explains Sayre. "So if you think about who is likely to be nearby a 60-year-old man — at home, on the golf course, while walking around the neighborhood — it'll probably be his significant other or friends his age."
According to Sayre, the main concern people have about performing CPR is that they're afraid they'll do the CPR wrong and hurt the person.
To such worries, Sayre says, "If someone is in cardiac arrest, you can only help. It's really hard to make the situation worse."
If a rescuer accidently breaks the cardiac arrest victim's ribs while administering chest compressions, it's worth keeping in mind that a broken rib is a better outcome than death. And if by chance the person who collapsed isn't in cardiac arrest, and someone starts CPR, "the victim will likely wake up and tell you to stop," Sayre reassures.
When faced with a cardiac arrest emergency, Sayre advises calling 911 and then doing CPR as best you can.
"CPR buys time," he says, "and performing some CPR is better than doing nothing at all."