The Role of CPR – Call, Push, Shock to Save a Life

The Role of CPR JH

Author: Claudia Guarnaccia

When examining medical emergencies, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (or CPR as it is commonly known) is a lifesaving technique that is used to help save a life.

However, what do you really know about CPR?

In January 2020, the Monash University released the results of a research study focussed on National estimates of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training and awareness of Cardiac Arrest. 1076 respondents were included in the final sample.

Key results found:

  • Only 16% of respondents could identify the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack
  • 56% of respondents reported having completed previous CPR training
  • Only 22% of respondents had current CPR training (within the last year)
  • CPR training increased confidence in respondent’s ability to perform effective CPR and use a defibrillator
  • Lack of CPR training was the most common reason why respondents would not provide CPR to a stranger.

The report provided the following conclusions:

There is a need to improve the community’s understanding of cardiac arrest, and to increase awareness and training in CPR. CPR training rates have not changed over the past decades and new initiatives are needed.

How to Recognise a Cardiac Arrest?

If a person is in cardiac arrest, you must commence CPR as soon as possible.

A cardiac arrest is when a person is unconscious and NOT breathing

The role of CPR is to keep a person alive by manually working the heart and lungs which circulates blood and oxygen around the body. The aim is to maintain oxygen to the brain (to reduce brain damage) and to buy time for Ambulance personnel to arrive.

What Actions Are Required?

If you find a person in cardiac arrest, you must quickly:

CALL 000 for an Ambulance

PUSH on the chest to commence CPR

SHOCK the person’s heart if a defibrillator is available.

CALL, PUSH and SHOCK are the key messages of Restart a Heart Day – held annually on 16th October.

How To Perform CPR

How to perform CPR? The below steps are recommended by the Australian Resuscitation Council of Australia to provide quality and effective chest compressions through CPR:

  • Ensure the person is laying on their back and on a hard surface (they must be moved off a bed or lounge)
  • Your hands must be placed on the centre of their chest (or lower half of sternum)
  • Kneel next to the person and push down on the chest (two hands interlocked) with the heel of your hand – attempt to keep your arm straight and use your body weight to push down.
  • You must attempt to compress 1/3 depth of person’s chest
  • The speed of compressions should be between 100-120 per minute (or 2 compressions per second).
  • It is recommended for every 30 compressions you perform 2 rescue breaths.
  • Hands only CPR is OK and up to the individual to decide, however if the person has experienced an extended period of time not breathing (ie drowning) then breathes are highly necessary to put more oxygen back into the body. Read our blog on CPR during COVID-19.
  • As performing CPR can be an exhausting exercise, if possible, change the person doing CPR every two minutes. This ensures the most consistent compressions.

The above rates for CPR are recommended for all ages – adults, children and babies:

CPR For babies (up to 12 months): Use 2 fingers or thumbs to do compressions to reach 1/3 depth of chest, and if you’re performing breathes, there is no head tilt. You can do the breaths over the nose and mouth.

CPR For Children (1-8 years): Use the heel of one hand to do compressions to reach 1/3 depth of chest, and if you’re performing breathes, pinch nose and keep head in neutral position with slight head tilt.

CPR For Adults: Use two hands to do compressions to reach 1/3 depth of chest, and if you’re performing breathes, pinch nose and tilt the head completely.

It does not matter why someone has had cardiac arrest. You must perform CPR as this is a priority over other injuries.


If a defibrillator is available, use this in conjunction with CPR. If one is not available or in easy access, ensure you focus solely on calling 000 and CPR.

Defibrillators are not recommended for babies 0-12 months of age.

The role of a defibrillator is to ‘kick start’ the heart to enable it to beat on it’s own. When this occurs the person’s breathing will also recommence.

The defibrillator is also an aid for CPR, providing a metronome to keep the recommended speed of compressions, two-minute time cycles to re-analyse the heart and in some cases, CPR feedback to assist you to do quality compressions (depth and speed).

CPR is a life skill that everyone should know. You must continue to perform CPR until help arrives or signs of life return.

CPR Demonstration Videos

Watch our videos below, demonstrating what effective CPR looks like on an adult and on a baby. There are some great tips to ensure you are doing it well and to gain more confidence!

Contact the Michael Hughes Foundation to update your CPR qualifications. It is recommended to update your HLTAID001 CPR every 12 months and your HLTAID003 Provide First Aid every 3 years.

The Whittley Club of NSW Inc obtained a defibrillator through NSW Office of Sport grant program.  The assistance I received from Julie and the organisation was fantastic!  MHF helped guide me through the necessary paperwork and provided our members with thorough training in the use of the equipment.

- Narelle Baglin, Treasurer, Whittley Club NSW Inc.

Our CPR refresher course was great, and Kevin is just awesome! I don’t think we would want anyone else but Kevin from now on, we feel spoilt!

- Baber Rasheed, Community First Step, Fairfield

I just completed my HLTAID003 Provide First Aid course. It was the best first aid training I have ever done. Charnan is a fantastic trainer with such a wealth of experience.

- Karen Hope, General Manager People, Culture and Youth Programs, PCYC NSW

Since 2016, Stellar Learning has used Michael Hughes Foundation for all our first aid training. Our trainer Kevin is amazing… Not only does he do First Aid courses, he is a paramedic and very hands on. Kevin explains things in an easy manner and helps everyone throughout the course. I would recommend him and the Foundation to any business wanting to host a first aid course.

- Liv Taylor, Stellar Learning Group

Thank you MHF! Your first aid and CPR training were fantastic. We love your presenters because they always make the training so interesting for our staff by sharing real life knowledge and experience. Keep up the great work.

- Michelle Hanley, Risk Manager & State Member Protection Officer, Football NSW

The impact on each parent that has attended this course is immeasurable. The participants now have the skills to be able to stay calm and administer First Aid if faced with an emergency. This training has also enabled the participants to update skills for work or to help secure employment.

- Catherine Gregory, Hilltop Road Public School
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