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How to perform CPR

In an emergency infants and children who are not responding and aren’t breathing will need CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). This may happen because the child has a severe illness or severe life threatening  injury (including events such as a non fatal drowning, smoke inhalation and/or electric shock).

The Ministry of Health’s My Health Book says the following about CPR:

CPR requires you to push hard and fast on the chest to simulate the action of breathing. 

  • DANGERS: Make sure you are personally safe. Check for any dangers to yourself such as electricity, depth of water or traffic. Once it is safe and you are safe, move to the next level.
  • HARD SURFACE: Put your patient on the ground or hard surface.
  • RESPONSIVE: Check responsiveness by calling loudly and shaking the child’s arm. Tap on the child’s collarbone to rouse them. If you cannot get a response you will have to breath for them
  • HELP: Send someone for help. Dial 111 and confirm that there is an ambulance on its way. Do this even if you are alone, before starting CPR.
  • AIRWAY: Open the airway by moving the head into neutral position and lifting the chin. Don’t tilt the head back too far.
  • BREATHING: Seal your mouth over the child’s mouth and nose. Gently puff into the mouth two times until you see their chest rise and fall. Look and feel for movement of the lower chest and stomach area. Listen and feel for air coming from the nose or mouth. If they come back and are breathing, then place the baby on their side and wait for help to arrive.
  • CHEST COMPRESSIONS: If the baby is still not breathing, start CPR:  30 compressions to two breaths
    Put the baby on a firm surface. Place two fingers of one hand in the centre of the chest just below the nipples. Push down hard and fast 30 times in about 15 seconds (push down one third of the chest depth). Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the baby’s mouth two times. Once again seal your lips around the baby’s mouth and nose. Gently puff into the baby until you see their chest rise and continue with the cycle of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until the ambulance arrives.
  • AED: If an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is available, attach it and follow its prompts and instructions. AED’s can be used on children and all have paediatric pads contained in it.

The above series of actions is based on the Basic Life Support Flow Chart developed by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council and the Australian Resuscitation Council. For more information see

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