How to restart a heart

Imagine, tomorrow morning, you are out shopping in the mall. Suddenly, a man in the prime of his life collapses on the floor in front of you.  He doesn’t move and is non-responsive to speech and physical stimulation. A crowd of people gathers arounds and stares at you. What do you do?

You start remembering similar situations from movies and try refreshing your knowledge. However, you cannot remember because you never paid much attention to those type of scenes, thinking that cannot happen with you.

Giving immediate life support is of utmost importance, for ensuring success for the professional team arriving later on the scene. Every minute if nothing is done,   chances of survival reduce by 10 %. As no health system can provide immediate professional response, bystanders like you have to give immediate first aid.

Here is our plan of action:

Make sure it is safe to approach the person in need !

  1. CHECK
  • Check for any kind of verbal or physical response.
  • Tilt back the head, lift the chin and check for breathing.
  • If breathing is absent or not normal and the person is unresponsive, CPR (Cardio- Pulmonary Resuscitation) is mandatory !
  1. CALL (for help)
  • Call 112 and follow the instructions via phone.
  • If anyone else is around, ask him to call 112 for you, and let him fetch an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator). Ask him to come back to you in any case.

Cardiac compressions are most important for survival. Do not delay or interrupt cardiac compressions !

  1. COMPRESS (the chest)
  • Place both hands on the center of the chest.
  • Compress the chest with a depth of 5 to 6 cm and do so 100-120 times / minute (rhythm of “Stayin´Alive”)
  • If you learned how to do it, provide 2 rescue breaths after every 30 compressions, otherwise compress the chest continuously.
  • Push hard and fast. Don’t worry, you can’t do any harm !
  • If an AED arrives, switch it on immediately and follow the instructions.
  • Once the emergency services arrive, continue until you are told to stop.

Well done! Doing something, saves lives and is always better than doing nothing!


Please note, that normally after 2-3 min. you will be too exhausted to go on with proper compressions (depths and frequency). If another helper is around, CPR should be handed over to the other person after 2 minutes and then back again.

You do not have to give mouth- to mouth or mouth- to- nose rescue breaths if you do not feel comfortable to do so. There still is a certain quantity of oxygen left in the blood that is delivered to brain when the chest compressions are performed. This technique is the so- called “Compression only CPR !”

However, often in children a low content of oxygen is the cause for a cardiac arrest and rescue breathing is more important!

The European Resuscitation council offers a perfect flyer in different languages on this topic. It is free to download under:


Talk to your neighbours, people at work and friends about it as you might be the person to need help as well !