Compression-Only CPR Frequently Asked Questions from the Red Cross

Q. What is Compression-Only CPR?

A. Compression-Only CPR is giving continuous chest compressions (approximately 100 compressions per minute) without giving rescue breaths.

Q. When should Compression-Only CPR be used?

A. Based on scientific evidence, the American Red Cross supports Compression-Only CPR (continuous chest compressions) as an effective alternative when:

  • a bystander is unwilling, unable, untrained or unsure how to perform full CPR (cycles of chest compressions and rescue breaths) and;
  • a bystander has witnessed the sudden collapse of an adult.

Q. When should Compression-Only CPR not be used?

A. Compression-Only CPR should not be used for infants and children, for an adult whose sudden collapse is not witnessed or when a respiratory emergency may have caused the cardiac arrest.

Q. Is “Compression-Only CPR” the same as “Hands-Only CPR?”

A. Yes. The Red Cross uses the term “Compression-Only CPR” while the American Heart Association (AHA) uses “Hands-Only CPR.” The technique is the same – giving continuous chest compressions (approximately 100 compressions per minute) without giving rescue breaths.

Q. Do the Red Cross and AHA agree on the recommendations for Compression-Only CPR?

A. Yes. Both Red Cross and AHA hope that Compression-Only CPR will save lives by encouraging bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult to get involved and have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number and then start giving continuous chest compressions until help arrives or the adult shows obvious signs of life (normal breathing or movement).

Q. Do people still need to take traditional CPR courses?

A. The Red Cross encourages everyone to learn traditional or full CPR (cycles of chest compressions and rescue breaths). There are emergency situations where a person shows no signs of life (normal breathing or movement) and may benefit from full CPR. Many individuals will still need to take training that includes full CPR such as those who take CPR training for certification to meet federal, state and local requirements, lay responders in workplaces who have a duty to respond, or those who care for infants and children.

Q. What about professional rescuers?

A. Compression-Only CPR does not affect Red Cross professional rescuer level CPR/AED training programs.

Q. Do you use an AED if performing Compression-Only CPR?

A. Yes. An automated external defibrillator (AED) should be used as soon as it becomes available – regardless of whether or not the sudden collapse was witnessed. The device will not cause additional harm to the victim and will not defibrillate unless a shockable rhythm is detected.

Q. What should I do if I am trained in full CPR, do not have a duty to respond and witness the sudden collapse of an adult?

A. If you are trained in full CPR, do not have a duty to respond and you witness the sudden collapse of an adult – have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. If you are comfortable doing so, give full CPR. If you are not comfortable do so, giving Compression Only CPR is an effective alternative. Continue compressions until help arrives or the adult shows obvious signs of life (normal breathing or movement).

Q. What should I do if I am trained in full CPR, have a duty to respond and witness the sudden collapse of an adult?

A. If you are trained in full CPR, have a duty to respond and you witness the sudden collapse of an adult – have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Perform the skills according to your level of training.

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One Response to Compression-Only CPR Frequently Asked Questions from the Red Cross

  1. Barbara says:

    What are the 5 reasons when CPR can be stopped?

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