CPR training resource guide: Why it’s important, how it works, how to get trained

Learning hands-only CPR can save a life


Did you know immediate CPR during a cardiac arrest episode can double -- or even triple -- your chances of survival?

Every year, 350,000 people die from cardiac arrest in the United States. That’s why Local 4 partnered with the American Heart Association (AHA) to bring you a special event day, Staying Alive, which includes bystander CPR training across Metro Detroit, along with a series of informative stories and resources to prepare you for the worst. (Find full coverage and stories of our CPR day event here, or check out the links down below.)

In this article, you can find helpful resources on what hands-only CPR is all about, why it’s important, videos on how to perform CPR, and how you can get trained. The information below is from the American Heart Association.

Related: How to use an AED

The gender difference: Men vs. women

According to a study released by the Resuscitation Science Symposium, men are more likely to receive bystander CPR in public locations compared to women.

  • Women and men receive similar CPR assistance within the home, but in public 45 percent of men received assistance compared to only 39 percent of women.
  • Men were 1.23 times more likely to receive bystander CPR in public, and their chance of survival was 23 percent higher compared to women.

So why the discrepancy? It could come down to anatomy and a bystander being comfortable enough to perform CPR on a woman. The videos below highlight the differences in hands-only CPR approach for a man vs. woman:

How to do CPR on a child or infant

Where to find CPR courses near you

The AHA is the leader in resuscitation science, education, and training, and publisher of the official Guidelines for CPR and ECC. Millions of healthcare providers and others trust the AHA for their lifesaving training, and 100% of the AHA’s profits go back into supporting its lifesaving mission.

Click here to find training classes near you, along with more tools and packages.

Why is CPR important?

Keeping the blood flow active – even partially – extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site.

Cardiac arrest vs. heart attack

People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

CARDIAC ARREST occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly.

Cardiac arrest is an “ELECTRICAL” problem.

Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs.

What happens

Seconds later, a person becomes unresponsive, is not breathing or is only gasping. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment.

What to do

Cardiac arrest can be reversible in some victims if it’s treated within a few minutes.

  • First, call your local emergency number and start CPR right away.
  • Then, if an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available, use it as soon as possible.
  • If two people are available to help, one should begin CPR immediately while the other calls your local emergency number and finds an AED.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death.

Cardiac arrest affects thousands of people annually with about three quarters of them occurring in the home.

What is a heart attack?

A HEART ATTACK occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

A heart attack is a “CIRCULATION” problem.

A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die.

What happens?

Symptoms of a heart attack may be immediate and may include intense discomfort in the chest or other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and/or nausea/vomiting. More often, though, symptoms start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before a heart attack. Unlike with cardiac arrest, the heart usually does not stop beating during a heart attack. The longer the person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.

The heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men (shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain).

What to do

Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call your local emergency number. Every minute matters! It’s best to call your local emergency number to get to the emergency room right away. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.

What is the link?

Most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest. But when cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. Other conditions may also disrupt the heart’s rhythm and lead to cardiac arrest.

Chain of Survival

CPR is a critical step in the AHA’s Chain of Survival. The term Chain of Survival provides a useful metaphor for the elements of the ECC systems concept.

The 6 links in the adult out-of-hospital Chain of Survival are:

  • Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system (calling 9-1-1 in the US)
  • Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compressions
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Advanced resuscitation by Emergency Medical Services and other healthcare providers
  • Post-cardiac arrest care
  • Recovery (including additional treatment, observation, rehabilitation, and psychological support)

A strong Chain of Survival can improve chances of survival and recovery for victims of cardiac arrest.

Find more info and resources on CPR and CPR training from the American Heart Association.

Here are some links to our Staying Alive CPR Day coverage