Emergencies - CPR

Emergencies - CPR

Tamariki (children) and pēpi (babies) who are not responding and not breathing normally will need CPR.

CPR on infants

Dr. Tony Smith, St John medical director demonstrates how to perform CPR on infants.

Hato Hone | St John New Zealand


How can I learn CPR (rescue breathing and chest compressions)?

Learn CPR before you need it - watch the above video for step by step instructions.

Parents and whānau should know how to do CPR. Find courses near you, run by organisations including:

Tamariki and pēpi who are not breathing normally and are not responding need CPR. If you're not sure, it's better to start CPR.

How to do CPR

Remember the letters DRS ABCD

D - Dangers?

Check for any dangers to yourself such as electricity or traffic.

R - Responsive?

Check responsiveness by talking to the child and touching their hand.

S - Send for help

Dial 111 and confirm an ambulance is on its way. Use the appropriate emergency number in other countries.

A - Airway

Open the airway by tilting the head and lifting the chin. Do not tilt the head back too far.

Screenshot from St Johns video showing tilting of the head

B - Breathing

Look and feel for movement of the chest and stomach area. Listen and feel for air coming from the nose or mouth.

If they are breathing, place the child in the recovery position.

See the illustration of a child in the recovery position.

Illustration showing child in the recovery position

C - Chest compressions

Don’t worry about pushing too hard – you need to push hard and fast.

If the child is not breathing, start CPR - 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Put the child on a firm surface. Place 2 fingers of one hand (for a baby) or the heel of one hand (for a child) in the centre of the chest just below the nipples.

Screen shot from st johns video showing chest compressions

It is important to push down hard and fast - you need to push at 100 a minute. The beat of the Bee Gees song ‘Staying Alive’ is exactly 100 beats a minute, so get that song in your mind.

Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the child's mouth 2 times.

For a baby - seal your lips around the baby's mouth and nose.

For a child over 1 - pinch their nose closed and breathe into their mouth.

Screenshot from st johns video showing breathing during CPR

Continue with the cycle of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths until the ambulance arrives.

D - Defibrillator

Attach an automated external defibrillator (AED) as soon as available, turn on and follow prompts (the defibrillator will talk to you).

The picture on the AED will show you where to put the pads.

Screenshot from st johns video showing AED

If there are no child pads, use adult pads. The pads should not touch each other. If the pads are too large, put one on the front in the centre of the chest and the other on the back between the shoulder blades.

Return to chest compressions and keep going until the child responds or starts breathing normally, or professional help arrives and takes over.

Dr. Tony Smith, St John medical director demonstrates how to perform CPR and use an AED on tamariki.

Graphic showing the basic life support steps


The basic life support diagram is reproduced with permission of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council.​ Basic life support diagram (PDF, 2.8MB).

Illustration of a child in the recovery position by Dr Greta File. Property of KidsHealth. 

Video screenshots taken with permission from CPR on infants video by Hato Hone | St John NZ.

This page last reviewed 05 December 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it