Unconscious and Not Breathing

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3 min 21 sec
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Adult CPR is needed when someone is not breathing and has no heartbeat. You need to keep their body supplied with oxygen by forcing blood through the heart and the body as well as giving breaths to allow more oxygen to enter their lungs.

Open the Airway and check for Breathing for up to 10 seconds.

Look at the patient's chest to observe any chest rise and fall; listen with your ear to hear if there is any breathing. Your cheek should be close enough to the patient's mouth to feel any air movement.

If not breathing, perform CPR.

Give 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, 5-6cm deep into the centre of the breastbone.

Give 2 Rescue Breaths.

Rescue breaths are carried out by opening the airway with the head-tilt-chin-lift. Squeeze the soft part of the nose and sealing your mouth round theirs, blow gently in for about one second or until you see the chest rise while pinching the nose closed. Mouth-to-nose ventilation can also be used. It should take about 5 seconds between breaths and compressions.

Place the heel of your dominant hand on the centre of the chest, place your second hand on top and interlock your fingers.

Continue the cycle of 30 compressions to 2 breaths until the AED arrives, the EMS arrives, someone else can take over, or you are just too exhausted to continue. 

NOTE - Children, infants and adults who have drowned are given 5 rescue breaths first.

Agonal Breathing is a gasping sound and not like normal breathing. It is a sign of death, not life, and is a sign that CPR is needed.

Regurgitation or vomiting.

If when performing CPR the patient regurgitates, turn them away from you and allow the vomit to drain away, then turn them onto their back and continue CPR.


In most cases of drowning, you do not inhale a lot of water. Any water that is consumed is swallowed and often vomited when resuscitation takes place.

Make sure the scene is safe, use the call fast approach, and do 1 minute of CPR before going for help if you are alone.

Give 5 breaths before starting chest compressions. The reason for this is that the person is not breathing because of a respiratory (breathing) problem rather than a cardiac (heart) problem.  CPR with a drowning case can be more successful than with a sudden cardiac arrest.

Secondary drowning is a problem that can occur hours after a drowning or a near drowning case, so professional medical advice should always be taken.