When you should NOT do CPR

Are there ever any times when you should not even attempt CPR?

Yes, here are 4 reasons not to do CPR

Happy long weekend! We hope you’re enjoying the Canada Day or Independence Day weekend (or you’re just Relaxing on a Sunday Afternoon). Whichever it is, today’s blog comes to you with the aim of letting you do nothing – there are times when you should not do CPR.

Of course usually we’re encouraging you to do CPR or infant CPR or whatever it is that’s needed. After all, that’s what we teach. Sometimes the situation is so bad, you don’t have to. Here’s the quote from the OFA1 workbook:

All patients who are in cardiac arrest must receive CPR unless there is clear evidence that death has occurred, for example, if there is decapitation, transection, decomposition [or] an adult patient who has been submerged in water for over 60 minutes.

Note the way this quote starts off by telling you to do CPR, but then let’s you off under a few circumstances.Decapitated dolls head


1. Decapitation – head is no longer attached to body. No amount of CPR is going to fix this one.


Cut in half



2. Transection – sometimes called ‘sawing a lady in half.’ If you ever have the misfortune to encounter this without a handy magician, you don’t need to do CPR on either of the pieces.



3. Decomposition – instances where the body has started to rot.

What, you wanted a picture?

4. Submerging for over 60 minutes – if you’re likely to encounter drowning situations, try the Wilderness and Remote First Aid course. While it may be true in most cases, I wouldn’t want this to be seen an absolute rule.

So there you have the 4 reasons not to do CPR. Of course if you are ever involved in one of these, there might be plenty of other things for you to be doing, but CPR won’t be one of them.

About Tony Howarth

Tony is a First Aid & CPR Instructor Trainer with Sea 2 Sky Safety Training Services and the company founder. Tony started with the British Red Cross in 1994. Has acted as first aid attendant for hundreds of events & treated many hundreds of people as a result. He is experienced in training a wide range of courses. He previously worked as an ambulance attendant with the British Red Cross. He is now in BC as a first aid instructor, and an instructor trainer (one who trains others to become instructors) Finally, Tony works at Squamish General Hospital as the pharmacist manager when not busy training safety
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One Response to When you should NOT do CPR

  1. Pingback: First Aid – a Blog Round-up | Safety un-Limited

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