Authored by JoannaRasmuson

How to Stay Calm When Performing CPR

April 23, 2019 | Family Medicine

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, saves lives, and it’s critical for everyone to know how to perform CPR in case of an emergency. It’s also important to stay calm during a medical emergency. These simple tips can help you be prepared.

CPR Basics

What do you do when you see someone who collapses or can’t breathe? First, ask if he or she needs help. If the answer is yes, or if the victim doesn’t respond, call 911 immediately. Send someone to look for an AED if possible.

Next, lie the person down on a flat surface with his or her head tilted back to open the airway.

Listen for breathing sounds for 10 seconds; if you don’t hear breathing, start CPR by following these steps:

  1. Place both hands on the person’s chest.
  2. Press hard on the chest with both hands (the chest should depress at least two inches).
  3. Do this motion repeatedly about 100 times per minute.

If breathing does not restart, begin rescue breaths.

  1. Pinch the person’s nose shut.
  2. Seal your mouth over the victim’s.
  3. Blow into the mouth to make the chest rise.
  4. Do this twice then continue CPR compressions.

NOTE: The American Heart Association (AHA) says that even people who are not trained in CPR should still perform compressions but skip rescue breathing, a method called hands-only CPR.

Continue until an AED or emergency services arrives, or if you become too exhausted to continue performing CPR.


Tips To Stay Calm

It can be hard to stay calm when a loved one has a health emergency. Our bodies release stress hormones when danger strikes, which can lead to panic. Try these tips to remain calm in emergencies:

    • Focus on the required tasks. You need to call 911 and start CPR. Remember the acronym CAB: compressions, airway, breathing.
    • Breathing techniques can slow your heartbeat. In an emergency, we tend to breathe quickly, which can limit oxygen to the brain and make it difficult to focus. Try breathing in while counting to three. Hold the breath for three counts. Breathe out to the count of three.
    • Reassure yourself. Repeat a few basic phrases. Try “help is on the way” or “everything will be OK.”
    • Don’t get stuck. Can’t remember the steps to CPR? The AHA says that any action is always better than no action in an emergency. Do what you can and know that help will arrive soon. You can also ask the 911 operator to walk you through the process.
    • Be prepared. Preparing for a potential emergency can make it easier to react calmly and quickly when the time comes. For example, consider taking a CPR class. It’s also beneficial to keep emergency numbers in a place where you can access them.
    • Try meditation exercises. Practicing for just a few minutes a day can improve your calm and focus, the two most essential factors in an emergency.


If you want to learn more about emergency preparedness and first aid, look for classes near you. Clinics, fire departments, police stations and local health departments often offer classes to the public.


Dr. Oneida practices the full range of family medicine including obstetrics, pediatrics, adolescent medicine, adult medicine and some orthopedics. She also performs colposcopy, cryotherapy and vasectomies. Due to the volume of deliveries done, her practice has evolved to be more centered on women and children’s medicine, although she enjoys all aspects of family medicine. 



“Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). First Aid.” Mayo Clinic.

“CPR Steps.” American Red Cross.

“Six Steps for Keeping Calm in an Emergency.” HopingHealth.

“Staying Calm During an Emergency Can Save Lives.” The Huffington Post.


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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.