If someone else is performing CPR, what should I do as a bystander?


If someone else is performing CPR, what should I do as a bystander?  

5 ways bystanders can help during CPR

More than 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) occur outside of the hospital each year. Approximately 90% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die.  However, CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival (American Heart Association). 

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating or beats too erratically to circulate oxygenated blood to the brain and other vital organs. More than 1,600 people suffer cardiac arrest every day in the United States (Red Cross).

But what happens when you witness a CPR-trained bystander leaping into action and begin performing CPR? What can you do to help?

Standing by helplessly, doing nothing, isn’t an option. Here are 5 things you can do to help.

#1: Call 911

Every second counts. Don’t interrupt or distract the person who’s performing CPR to ask whether or not they’ve called 911. Just call 911. 

The emergency operator will call for an ambulance and will stay on the phone to offer CPR guidance and encouragement as needed.

#2: Find an AED

Most public spaces — like malls, community centers, and airports will have an AED nearby. Locate it as quickly as possible and bring it to the rescuer. If you can, open it up and get it ready for them to apply the pads as efficiently as possible. Whatever you can do to help ensure that the person performing CPR does so with minimal interruptions can help.

3#: Stay calm

Staying calm during a cardiac emergency is hard to do, but it's important. Once you’ve made the call to 911 and have located an AED, stay calm and offer encouragement to the person performing CPR.

#4: Look for help

If you can, flag down another person to assist. If possible, find a police officer — often they’re CPR-trained and will be able to take over for the rescuer or take turns performing CPR. An additional person could also help locate AEDs, help with chest compressions as needed (see #5), or help you find an EMT, nurse, or another CPR-trained bystander.

#5: Offer assistance

Performing CPR is physically demanding and can be tiring. However, compressions must occur at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. The compression depth for adults should be at least two inches. The chest should recoil completely (or reinflate) between compressions. CPR needs to be continuous until EMTs arrive. 

You can help by keeping them on pace. If you want to keep their rhythm going, think “Stayin’ Alive,” “Bad Romance,” “Don’t Stop Believin’” or “Crazy in Love.” 

If the person performing CPR is not able to sustain this life-saving pace — or begins resting on the victim’s chest between compressions — offer to take over. Whatever you do, continue performing chest compressions until EMTs arrive. If you aren’t trained in CPR and you don’t have a CPR face mask, use hands-only CPR

Cardio Partners offers CPR, AED, and first aid training courses in all 50 states in traditional classroom settings and in blended learning courses. To learn more about our courses, call our team at 866-349-4362 or email Cardio Partners at customerservice@cardiopartners.com


DISCLAIMER: Information and resources found on the aed.com website and blog are intended to educate, inform, and motivate readers to make their health and wellness decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. The authors are not healthcare providers. NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.