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You Can Save a Life

By taking 60 seconds to learn hands-only CPR — now

Video courtesy of the American Heart Association

Conventional (Mouth-to-mouth) CPR

Conventional CPR, which is what most people think of when they imagine CPR, involves a fine choreography of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation paired with chest compressions.

However, unlike in the past, when rescue breathing was initiated before chest compressions (remembered by the acronym ABC for "Airway, Breathing, Compressions"), the current CPR guidelines, issued in 2010, use the acronym CAB for "Compressions, Airway, Breathing."

As demonstrated in the video above, conventional CPR involves the following steps:

  1. Call 911 and retrieve an AED (automated external defibrillator), if available, or ask someone else to.
  2. Administer 30 two-inch-deep chest compressions.
  3. Open and check the airway, and provide two rescue breaths. (Watch that the chest rises and deflates.)
  4. Repeat the 30:2 compression to ventilation ratio until the patient is revived, an AED is activated or medical assistance arrives.

This type of CPR is the better choice when a victim has stopped breathing because of drowning or when a person is found unconscious (i.e. no one witnesses the collapse) and is not breathing normally.

Mouth-to-mouth CPR is also commonly used for breathing emergencies involving children, since the reason for a young person to stop breathing is usually a respiratory problem and not a sudden cardiac arrest.

Since it can be hard to provide deep enough breaths in order to breathe for two, it's beneficial to learn and practice conventional CPR in a classroom setting. Look for classes in your area by visiting the websites of the American Heart Association or American Red Cross, or by contacting your local department of parks and recreation, adult education or senior services.

Helpful Hint: Specially designed CPR face masks and face shields now exist to assist and protect rescuers while performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Many first aid kits come equipped with such a mask or shield, which can also be purchased at a pharmacy.

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