British Heart Foundation: Hands-only CPR

What is Hands-Only CPR?

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has been running a "Hands-only CPR” campaign, promoting the idea that untrained bystanders can perform hands-only CPR if they see someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Hands-only CPR is a compression-only resuscitation method that requires pushing hard and fast on the victim’s chest without giving rescue breaths.

How to Perform Hands-only CPR

Follow these steps to perform hands-only CPR:

  1. Check the victim’s status. If they are nonresponsive and not breathing normally, then their heart has likely stopped beating and they are suffering a cardiac arrest.
  2. Call 999. Then begin performing hands-only CPR.
  3. Put one hand on top of the other, interlinking your fingers. Keep the fingers of your lower hand open.
  4. Lock your fingers together, knuckles up.
  5. Push down five or six centimetres (about two inches) in the middle of the victim’s chest. Push hard and fast, about two times a second (think of the beat of the pop song, “Stayin’ Alive”). Don’t worry about causing injury – a life saved is more important than a cracked rib. 
  6. Continue performing compressions until the ambulance arrives.

This advert, fronted by the well-known tough man Vinnie Jones, takes a no no-nonsense approach to CPR:

"Hands-only CPR. Call 999. Then push hard and fast to the beat of ‘Stayin' Alive’. It's not as hard as it looks." 

In the advert, there is a large focus on compressions and less emphasis on giving breaths: "No kissing, you only kiss your Missus on the lips.”


The BHF has several initiatives which aim to improve survival rates from cardiac arrest, such as the Heartstart Emergency Lifesaving Course and the campaign to get Emergency Life Support Skills as a compulsory item on the Heartstart course curriculum.

ZOLL® Supports Hands-Only CPR Campaign

As an organisation that focuses on resuscitation, ZOLL values the importance of high-quality CPR. Accordingly, ZOLL has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation to support the Hands-Only CPR campaign. The BHF has developed PocketCPR, a free training app for iPhone and Android devices that teaches users how to perform hands-only CPR and practice achieving the correct depth and rate of compressions.

The CPR techniques taught by PocketCPR are also featured in all ZOLL AEDs and professional defibrillators. These devices provide high-quality CPR, using the built-in accelerometer-based feedback inside any ZOLL CPR electrode. Clinical studies have shown that enhancing the quality of chest compressions can improve the chance of a successful defibrillation and of survival.

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