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If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a simple skill that can help save a life.

CPR involves;

1. Recognising that someone is having a cardiac arrest.

2. Contacting the emergency services on 112 or 999.

3. Pushing hard and fast on the chest.

Every year in Ireland thousands die from cardiac arrests – 70 per cent of these happened in the home.

CPR is a vital step in the chain of survival after a cardiac arrest. If you have been taught CPR , you are 10 times more likely to respond appropriately in an emergency.

What to do

How to do CPR

If you find someone collapsed, you should first perform a  primary survey . If you have established from this that they are unresponsive and not breathing, you should call for help by calling 999 or 112 for emergency services while you start CPR. Ask a helper to find and bring a defibrillator, if available.

Start CPR. Kneel by the casualty and put the heel of your hand on the middle of their chest. Put your other hand on top of the first and interlock your fingers. Keep your arms straight and lean over the casualty. Press down hard, to a depth of about 5-6cm before releasing the pressure, allowing the chest to come back up.

CPR Compressions

Continue to perform CPR until:

  • emergency help arrives and takes over  
  • the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally
  • you are too exhausted to continue (if there is a helper, you can change over every one-to-two minutes, with minimal interruptions to chest compressions)
  • a defibrillator is ready to be used.

Deploying an AED

If the helper returns with a defibrillator, ask them to switch it on and follow the voice prompts while you continue with CPR.


If the casualty shows signs of becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.

  • If you have attached a defibrillator, leave it in place.