Resource: First Aid & CPR

When to start CPR/Calling 999 or 112

When a casualty is in cardiac arrest, the first step in the chain of survival is Early Recognition & Activation of the Emergency Response. Clear guidelines in this instance will help the First Responder make a vital decision that could save a life.


Early Recognition and Activation of the Emergency Response

Is the person in need of help? What if they are only unconscious and will be okay shortly? I don't want to make a fuss by calling 999!
These are just some of our thoughts when responding to an unexpected emergency. A Cardiac Arrest is a life threatening emergency and we want you to be able to identify it quickly and act immediately.

Your Safety

In most instances of cardiac arrest there are typically very few safety concerns. However some emergency scenarios can be fraught with danger. It is paramount that the First Responder takes care of their own safety, as coming to harm will only escalate the emergency and will not benefit the casualty in any way.


Hazards can include:

  • Traffic
  • Deep or fast flowing water
  • Fire
  • Aggressive bystanders
  • Blood or body fluids
Check for Response & Check for Breathing

Check if a casualty responds by calling out to them. Use their name if you know it –

‘Ruth…..Ruth! Open your eyes, are you okay?’

If the casualty responds, great, their airway is open and it’s not a Caridac Arrest. If they do not respond, shake their shoulders to see if they respond. No response means the casualty is Unresponsive and needs help.


Shout for help – Help!! At this point it is likely you need the emergency services so call or ask someone else to call 999 or 112.


Ensure the casualties airway is open by tilting their head back and check for breathing. Simply look down at their tummy/chest area to see if they are breathing normally. Do this for a minimum of 5 seconds and for a maximum of 10 seconds.

Agonal gasps – a short sharp intake of breath at irregular intervals – are a sign of cardiac arrest. Agonal gasps are not normal breathing.

Making a Emergency Call

We can all be apprehensive about making a call to emergency services – it’s a recognition that something has gone wrong at this moment and all of our prior plans are on hold for now.


Call 999 or 112 and simply answer the questions that the dispatcher asks. The dispatcher will help guide you on any treatment your may provide to help the casualty including CPR.

CPGs - Basic Life Support

Scroll to Top