Living Well Los Alamos: Hands-Only CPR

Living Well Los Alamos
Extension Home Economist
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service

The first week of June is National CPR Week. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR can be performed by anyone. You do not need to be a doctor, a teacher or even an adult. Many people may feel unable to assist during a cardiac emergency.

In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that the vast majority of bystanders feel unable to assist with or provide CPR. This is especially unfortunate because seventy percent of cardiac arrests occur in residential settings, such as at home. This means that if you are called on to perform CPR you are most likely performing it on a friend or loved one.

It is estimated that only about 39 percent of those who suffer a cardiac event outside of a hospital receive the immediate assistance they need before medical professionals arrive. Furthermore, fewer than 10 percent of those who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a medical setting will survive.

Hands-only CPR is CPR that does not use mouth-to-mouth breathing. Instead it relies solely on chest compressions. It is recommended for adult or teens who have suffered a cardiac event. It is not recommended for children or infants. Hands-only CPR consists of two steps:

  • Call 9-1-1;
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. A one-minute video is available on the American Heart Association website at

In honor of National CPR Week, Los Alamos will host a Project Heartstart event Saturday, June 20. The training is free and open to all ages. The event aims to improve the likelihood of survival of cardiac arrest by having as many community members trained in hands-only CPR as possible.

The event will take place at Fuller Lodge with sessions at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. The event is free and no registration is necessary. If you are able to volunteer please visit:

The American Heart Association states, “Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.” Hands-only CPR is as effective as traditional CPR in public or home settings.  In our community, approximately 100 laypersons have already been trained in hands-only CPR. By increasing the number of people who feel confident providing CPR, we can improve the likelihood that our loved ones will survive a cardiac emergency.

Helen Idzorek is the Extension Home Economist and 4-H Agent for NMSU Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached via email at or at 505.662.2656. The Los Alamos County Cooperative Extension Service is temporarily located in the old Red Cross Building at 2150 Juniper St. in Los Alamos.

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