How to do CPR – an easy step-by-step guide

By | October 31, 2018

When footie legend Glenn Hoddle suffered a heart attack in a TV studio at the weekend, it could have been the final whistle.

The former England and Tottenham manager collapsed in an appearance on BT Sport in London on his 61st birthday.

But sound supervisor Simon Daniels, 47, knew basic first aid after training as a special constable and ran to help him.

Simon, who has insisted he is “no hero”, used a defibrillator before paramedics arrived to take Hoddle to hospital.

Here, with the help of Joanne Shepherd from St John Ambulance, we bring you a first-aid guide to show how you too can be a lifesaver in an emergency.


A cardiac arrest happens when someone’s heart stops. If someone has become unresponsive and they are not breathing normally, they could be in cardiac arrest and you need to act quickly.

What to look for

• They are unresponsive.

• They are not breathing normally.

• They show no movement or signs of life.

What to do if someone is having a cardiac arrest

• Call 999/112 for emergency help and do not leave them. Use a defibrillator if available (see next step).

• Start CPR. Give 30 chest compressions and then two rescue breaths. Repeat until help arrives.

A man gives CPR

• If they become responsive, for example by coughing, opening their eyes or speaking, put them in the recovery position and continue to monitor their level of response.


Anyone can use a defibrillator, so you don’t need to worry about getting it wrong or causing harm, says Joanne.

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By using a defibrillator before an ambulance arrives, you can significantly increase someone’s chance of survival after a cardiac arrest. Many public places keep a defibrillator as part of their first-aid equipment.

Defibrillators come in a small portable plastic box, stored in a noticeable casing, with a green sign above often showing a heart with a lightning bolt.

What to do

• Call 999/112 for emergency help. Do not leave the casualty to look for a defibrillator. Do CPR until the defibrillator is ready to use.

Calling for help is a must

• Switch on the defibrillator. Remove or cut through any clothing. Wipe away any sweat from the chest.

• Apply the pads. Follow the voice prompts given by the defibrillator.

• Continue doing CPR between each shock. Stand back when the shock is advised.

• If the casualty shows signs of becoming responsive, put them in the recovery position, leave the defibrillator pads attached and continue to monitor their level of response.


A heart attack happens when the supply of blood to part of the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

What to look for

• Crushing pain in the centre of their chest that may spread to their jaw and down one or both arms.

• They’re breathless or gasping for breath.

• They’re sweating profusely.

• They experience pain similar to indigestion.

• They collapse without warning.

• They complain of dizziness.

• They have pale skin and their lips have a blue tinge.

• They have a rapid, weak or irregular pulse.

• They have a feeling of impending doom.

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A feeling of impending doom can be a sign of a heart attack

What to do

• Call 999/112. Tell them you suspect a heart attack.

• Help move the casualty into a comfortable position. The best position is on the floor, with their knees bent and their head and shoulders supported. You could place cushions behind them or under their knees.

• Give them 300mg of aspirin to chew. Do not give aspirin to under-16s or if they are allergic. Help them use angina medication if they have it.

Getting the person in a comfortable position is helpful

• Monitor their level of response. If they become unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR (see above).


When someone is choking, their airway is partly or completely blocked, meaning they may be unable to breathe properly. They might be able to clear it by coughing, but if they can’t, you will need to help straight away.

Slapping a choking person below the shoulder blades can help

What to look for

• Difficulty breathing, speaking or coughing.

• A red, puffy face.

• Signs of distress.

• They may point to their throat or grasp their neck.

What to do

• Cough it out – encourage the casualty to keep coughing.

Abdominal thrusts can also help dislodge trapped food

• Slap it out – give five sharp back blows between the shoulder blades. Check their mouth each time.

• Squeeze it out – give five abdominal thrusts, otherwise known as the Heimlich manoeuvre. Check their mouth each time.

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• Call 999/112 for emergency help. Repeat the first two steps until help arrives.


Severe bleeding It can be dramatic and distressing for both you and the casualty when bleeding is severe, explains Joanne. If someone’s bleeding isn’t controlled quickly, they may lose a lot of blood, become unresponsive or develop shock.

Apply pressure to the wound

Shock does not mean emotional shock – it is a life-threatening condition, often caused by loss of blood. Your main priority in this situation is to stop the bleeding.

Raise and support legs so they are above the heart

What to do

• Apply direct pressure to the wound, using a sterile dressing if possible or a clean non-fluffy cloth, to stop the bleeding.

• Call 999/112 for emergency help.

• Secure the dressing with a bandage to maintain pressure. Make it firm enough to maintain pressure but not so tight that it restricts their circulation.

• Loss of blood could cause the casualty to develop shock. Treat them for this by helping them to lie down on a rug or blanket. Raise and support their legs so they are above the level of their heart.

You should then loosen any tight clothing around their neck, chest and waist and cover the casualty with a blanket to keep them warm.

Mirror – Health