CPR works in two parts. If the patient is unable to breathe, the blood becomes vastly depleted of oxygen, a critical requirement for the organs and tissues of the body to survive. By delivering rescue breaths, we are mimicking the casualty breathing and hence delivering oxygen (from our breath) into their lungs and blood. It is not essential to deliver rescue breaths – check out our page on Hands only CPR for more information.
The second part of CPR is chest compressions. Delivering chest compressions is vital to the patient. With the heart not beating, oxygen rich blood, especially that supplied by the rescue breaths, is unable to be transported around the body. By performing chest compressions, you become a manual pump, substituting the heart. You’re the heart pumping the blood around the patient’s body!