Tick Tock, Beat Drop: Recognizing the Right Moment for CPR

Tick Tock, Beat Drop: Recognizing the Right Moment for CPR

As Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can occur anytime and anywhere, being trained in recognizing the right moment for CPR can be crucial to save many lives. According to America’s Health Rankings, Tennessee is ranked 44th country for overall health. This leads to possessing CPR knowledge and skills as pivotal for helping out in an emergency.

Another worrying statistic is that 16% of Tennessee’s adults consider themselves in poor or fair health conditions. This additionally raises the possibility of experiencing SCA and the need to increase the number of CPR-trained citizens in the country to make it a safer place to live in. In this article, we’re explaining the importance and signs of recognizing when CPR is needed.

Situations that Require CPR

There are several emergencies in which possessing life-saving skills and maintaining oxygenation and blood circulation until the emergency team comes is important. The right moment for CPR is when the victim is experiencing cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. Below, we’re explaining the most common situations in which performing CPR is necessary.

Unconscious State

When a person is in an unconscious state and non-responsive, he’s probably experiencing respiratory insufficiency or cardiac arrest. In this situation, If trying to wake up the victim is unsuccessful, it’s time to perform CPR.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as ventricular fibrillation, arrhythmia, or heart attack. When a person is experiencing it, the breathing ceases and leads to loss of consciousness. The blood must be flowing to the vital organs to keep the victim alive until an emergency team arrives.

Near Drowning

When dealing with a near-drowning victim, their oxygen level rapidly decreases, leading to an unconscious state and the potential of experiencing cardiac arrest. Once the victim is out of the water, CPR should be performed immediately to help restore oxygen circulation in the body.


When a person starts choking as a result of airway obstruction, keeping the oxygen circulating in the body helps maintain the function of the vital organs. The victim may become unresponsive and unconscious during a severe case of choking. Performing CPR immediately is essential, but be sure to check the victim has no pulse before proceeding.


Electrocution is another state that can seriously disrupt the heart’s electrical system. This can result in cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, and other respiratory failures. When someone is experiencing electrocution, ensuring the safety of the rescuer and the victim is a must. This is especially true during events involving electrical hazards. Once done, performing life-saving skills can keep the victim alive until further medical help arrives.

Drug Overdose

People using heroin or other synthetic drugs easily experience cardiac arrests or respiratory failures. Drug overdose may cause respiratory failure, and the victim may be unresponsive, unconscious, and not breathing. Before administering CPR, check whether the victim is breathing and has a pulse.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How to Tell the Signs

When a person experiences SCA, there are several signs you can recognize to urge you to offer immediate help and keep them alive until the professional team’s arrival.

Sudden Collapse

When victims lose consciousness and collapse, they become unresponsive and stop breathing. If the victim does not respond to being shaken or called and is not breathing, proceed to administer CPR.

Not Breathing

Collapsing sometimes results in decreasing oxygen in the body, which leads to difficulty breathing or not breathing at all. If the person is gasping for air and losing consciousness, it’s a sign he’s experiencing SCA, and asking for professional help and assistance is necessary.


SCA leads to shortness of oxygen, which seriously affects the heart rhythm and the nervous system. As it leads to unconsciousness, the victim’s overall responsiveness is decreasing. This unresponsiveness can be a sign that someone is experiencing SCA and immediate help is needed.

Absence of pulse

The pulse becomes lower and even absent when a person is experiencing an SCA or other medical emergency. This is the sign that the person’s heart stopped beating and that immediate resuscitation is needed.

When is the right moment for CPR

Offering CPR at the right moment can help the victim experience fewer consequences of SCA. Providing the victim with CPR in the first few minutes helps in different ways:

      • Prevents further complications: Performing CPR in the first few minutes can help increase the oxygen level, which results in better blood flow and keeps the victim alive.

      • Reducing the consequences: Reduced chances of experiencing brain injury, neurological dysfunctions, or other health issues.

      • Buying time: Giving CPR keeps the victim alive until the professional team arrives.

      • Increasing the survival chances: Keeping the victim alive while performing CPR increases their survival chances by keeping the vital organs functioning.

      • Reviving the victim: Performing the techniques in the first few minutes brings the cardiovascular system back into function.

    The CPR Chain of survival is a resuscitation process with several steps that need to be performed in a certain way. These steps include recognizing the SCA, starting CPR and using an AED, response by the EMS, and hospital care.

    When to Stop Performing CPR

    In some situations, performing CPR is no longer viable or needed at all. There are several signs to look for while performing CPR that tell when it’s time to stop the process.

    Notice Obvious Signs of Life

    When the victim starts showing any signs of life, it means they are in a conscious state. These signs include getting back the breath, physically responding, making sounds, or purposeful arm or eye movements.

    The cardiovascular system should be in a stable situation by this time. To make sure, check the victim’s pulse. If the victim, for any reason, starts losing consciousness and isn’t responsive, CPR needs to be resumed.

    Another Trained responder or EMS Personnel Takes Over

    If there are two responders who are trained in administering CPR, they should switch every ten minutes to avoid fatigue. This allows giving the victim CPR for longer periods or until the victim revives. Once the EMS team arrives at the scene, they will take over, at which time you can stop giving CPR.

    DNR Order

    A DNR order means the victim should not be rescued if their breathing or heartbeat stops. The chances for a bystander to know if the victim’s given a DNR order are low unless they are related in any way. If so, CPR should not be performed or be stopped by the time it’s known a DNR order has been given. The medical team can check in their system if it’s been written by a medical professional or given by the victim or their relatives to the hospital.

    AED Device

    The CPR performance has to stop once an AED device is provided and ready to use. This helps the victim revive faster than the classic CPR performance.

    Body Fatigue

    CPR is a tiring physical activity, and it’s normal for a person to get easily exhausted. Everyone has their limits, and it depends on the person’s physical endurance. Some can feel exhausted after only 10 minutes, while others can continue for an hour or two. It’s recommended for the CPR performer to switch with someone nearby.

    When there is no other CPR performer, it’s okay to stop giving CPR to prevent fatigue. You will not be held liable for not assisting the victim, but you will be found guilty of abandonment if you leave the victim unattended. Always wait for the medical team to arrive and take over.

    Obvious Death

    Several signs point to the victim’s death, meaning CPR is necessary, and it’s time to stop performing it. If the victim is showing no signs of life, it means death occurred.

    Recognizing the Right Moment for CPR: Final Words

    In emergency situations, the most important thing is to recognize the moment when CPR is needed. Being unconscious, suffering an SCA, drowning, choking, and drug overdosing are some of the most common and can happen to people at any age.

    If you’re in the position of a CPR performer, it’s important to know when is the right moment for CPR. Also, learn when you can stop and recognize the signs of no further need for rescuing the victim.