How to do CPR

A cardiac arrest is when someone’s heart suddenly stops beating, and their breathing is abnormal or has stopped.  

Without quick action, the person will die. If you see someone collapsed and not breathing normally, you need to act fast so they can have the best chance of survival. 

To learn how to perform CPR, watch our short animation video below. We also have versions of this animation in a range of language translations

The steps you need to take to do CPR 

Before you approach the person who has collapsed, check your surroundings for danger. 

1. Shout for help. 

  • Shake them gently.  

2. Look and listen for signs of normal breathing. 

  • Look for the rise and fall of their chest.  

3. Call 999.  

  • Put the phone on loudspeaker and tell them you are with someone who is not breathing.  

4. Fetch a defibrillator if you can. 

  • The ambulance call handler will tell you where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is. If someone is with you, ask them to fetch it and bring it back. Do not leave the person if you are on your own.  

5. Start chest compressions: 

  • interlock your fingers 
  • place your hands in the centre of the chest 
  • push down hard and then release twice per second, and don’t stop. The ambulance call handler will help you. 

6. If you have a defibrillator, switch it on and follow the instructions.  

  • A defibrillator will tell you exactly what to do. Visit our defibrillator page for more information about them. 

7. Continue CPR until: 

  • the AED asks you to pause while it reanalyses and gives another shock if needed 
  • a paramedic arrives and tells you what to do 
  • the person shows signs of life. 

By developing the skills and confidence to follow these simple steps, you could be a lifesaver in an emergency. 

More ways to learn CPR

Restart a Heart

Every year, communities in the UK and worldwide become CPR-ready. Will you join them, and learn CPR on or around October 16?

Lifesaver learning

Step inside; save a life. Immerse yourself in realistic cardiac arrest scenarios, where you’ll learn lifesaving CPR skills.

Flier - how to do CPR

Download our flier, which shows the simple steps you need to take to perform CPR. Perfect for printing and sharing with friends, family and your wider community.

CPR language resources

Our language fliers and animation videos demonstrate how to do CPR in a range of languages.


Additional resources

Publication - CPR, AEDs and the Law: This document aims to clarify, where possible, the obligations and responsibilities of those who attempt resuscitation in anyone suffering a suspected cardiac arrest. It also provides guidance for organisations that are contemplating providing equipment and training for those who might use it.

Publication - A guide to Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs): This guide provides information about automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and how they can be used anywhere, by anyone, to try to save the life of a person who has a cardiac arrest.