The Chain of Survival: Understanding CPR’s Role

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a technique anyone can use to help revive a person who’s lost consciousness or stopped breathing. It’s the first link in the chain of survival, a concept that outlines the steps we need to take to increase a victim’s chance of survival after cardiac arrest. Understanding CPR’s role in the chain of survival is about recognizing how immediate action can make a life-or-death difference.

Take, for instance, the incident at the Indy 500, where state troopers were able to revive an 80-year-old man in cardiac distress. Everyone involved in the incident took the proper steps and initiated the chain of survival. The bystanders called for help and started chest compressions. The police were then able to use an Automated External Defibrillator and keep him conscious until the ambulance arrived.

All these actions are a textbook case of the chain of survival in action. In this post, we’ll look closer at the chain of survival, emphasizing how each link, from immediate recognition to advanced medical care, can help save lives.

Chain of Survival: What Is It?

Understanding the Chain of Survival is knowing how to do the right thing at the right time. According to data from the AHA, 72.1% of all cardiac arrests happen outside of hospital settings. You might be at a shopping mall, a park, or even home when someone nearby suddenly collapses. Your actions in those first few minutes can significantly impact the outcome. That’s when you have to jump into action and take the first steps of the chain of survival.

Early Recognition and Calling for Help

Recognizing that someone is in serious trouble is your cue to act immediately, for example, if they’re not breathing or their heart has stopped. Don’t second-guess yourself. Call the emergency medical services right away. Your quick action of calling for help sets the entire chain in motion.

Immediate CPR

Once you’ve made the call, the next step is to start CPR. Don’t worry if you’re not a pro. Just do chest-only CPR to keep blood flowing, delivering oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. Every minute you waste can reduce the victim’s chances of pulling through by 7%-10%. Your actions can keep someone alive until professional help arrives. If you are unsure about proper CPR administration, have the 911 operator help you position your arms and keep a good rhythm.


Nowadays, you can find an AED in many public spaces. If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and their heart has stopped, a quick zap from an AED can help restart it. Don’t be intimidated by these devices, as anyone can use them. AEDs give clear voice commands that guide you through the process even if you do not know the required steps.

Receiving Advanced Care

You’ve done your part by now and should let the paramedics take over. When the ambulance arrives, they will use their advanced medical skills and equipment to provide further medical care. That process might include:

    • Administering medications

    • Checking the victim’s vitals

    • Performing advanced life support procedures

    • Preparing the individual for rapid transport to the hospital

Hospital Care

After such a medical emergency, the victim must be monitored and receive treatment in a hospital setting. This stage is all about ensuring the patient’s stable and ongoing recovery, dealing with any complications that may arise, and beginning the journey to rehabilitation. The care team might include a variety of specialists working together to provide comprehensive care, ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient.

Post-Care Recovery

Surviving a cardiac arrest or similar life-threatening event is just the beginning of the journey. The quality of post-care recovery determines the patient’s qualify of life further on. Rehabilitation, follow-up care, and support are essential for the patient’s overall physical and emotional recovery. The victim might have to change some aspects of their lifestyle, including:

    • Become more active

    • Stop smoking and/or drinking

    • Improve their diet

    • Reduce stress

Getting Ready to Save Lives

You might not think you’ll ever be in a situation where you’ll need CPR or an AED, but emergencies don’t send a calendar invite. They happen unexpectedly, and when they do, knowing CPR can make the difference between life and death. Moreover, CPR is not just for medical professionals – it’s for moms, dads, students, teachers, and anyone who could find themselves in a position to help someone in medical need.

That is why everyone should consider enrolling in a CPR class, at least at a basic level. These courses are widely available and often take just a few hours, but the skills you gain can last a lifetime.

CPR Basics: A Mini-guide

Before helping the person in need, you must ensure the scene is safe. If it’s clear, approach the person and see if they’re responsive. If they’re not, it’s time to act. Here’s what you should do:

    • Lay the victim down on their back on a solid surface.

    • Put the heel of one hand at the center of the victim’s chest.

    • Put your other hand on top and weave your fingers together.

    • Lock your elbows and use the weight of your body to press down hard and fast.

    • The recommended rate is 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

    • Perform two rescue breaths after 30 consecutive compressions.

    • Angle the victim’s head back slightly and open their airway by tilting the chin back.

    • Seal your mouth over theirs and blow in until you see their chest rise.

It may sound simple, but doing it effectively takes practice – another reason for taking a class. Once you see signs of recovery and the person starting to breathe normally or move, you can pause to see if they continue to improve.

When professional medical help arrives, it’s time to step aside and let them take over. They are equipped to provide advanced care. Also, quickly inform them of what you’ve done and any response from the person in need.

Making CPR Second Nature

When you’re faced with an emergency, you should try to be as calm as possible. You can train your brain to react more calmly under pressure with practice. Taking regular refresher courses in CPR plays a huge part in this. Think of it like muscle memory: the more you practice, the more automatic the responses become.

Try to involve your friends and family in learning CPR as well. Not only does this spread the knowledge about CPR, but it also gives you a group of people with whom you can practice. You can even enroll in a group CPR class in Indianapolis if you have a large enough group. That way, if the time comes, you’ll know that you have an entire group of people who can help you initiate the chain of survival.

The Final Step

Understanding CPR’s role in the chain of survival can’t be overstated. Your immediate response in those critical moments can be the deciding factor when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest. CPR is a skill that seems simple, yet the impact it can have is profound. So, why don’t you take the step and learn CPR?

It doesn’t require you to be a medical professional – it just requires a willingness to act when action is needed. Knowing the basics of CPR and AED use will help you make your community a bit safer. The chain of survival begins with you, so don’t wait. Take a CPR class in Indianapolis today!