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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Rescue Breathing

Rescue Breathing

Breathing can be stopped in persons with sudden illness, allergy, and serious accident. It is performed on a person who is not breathing, but still has a pulse. Rescue breathing is done for the unconscious person


When an individual stops breathing there will be crucial minutes which pass before brain damage and death can occur. This time is very short in children.

Avoid performing rescue breathing on a stranger without using resuscitation mask, since you may catch any contagious disease

How to perform rescue breathing

Rescue breathing is done on a victim who is not breathing but still has a pulse. Use a head tilt and chin lift method to keep the person’s airway open. Pinch the victim’s nose shut gently using thumb and index finger. Place the mouth over the victim’s mouth to make a seal. Slowly breathe and watch for the chest rise. Give a pause in between each breath to let the air flow out. If the chest does not rise and fall, retilt the head and try again.  If still the air does not enter it means the person has obstructed airway and in such cases you need to perform abdominal thrusts.

Rescue breathing

After giving 2 breaths check for a pulse. If the victim has pulse but still not breathing, continue rescue breathing. Give one breath every 5 seconds. Check the pulse after about a minute of rescue breathing. If the victim has a pulse but still not breathing, continue rescue breathing and checking pulse every minute. If there is no pulse start CPR.

Rescue breathing in infants and children

In infants to open the airway, tilt the head slightly. The child should be given 1 slow breath every 3 seconds. In infant make a seal over both the infant’s mouth and nose. After one minute of rescue breathing, continue rescue breathing and checking the pulse each minute. It still the child is not breathing, retilt the head and breathe again. If the child is not breathing do abdominal thrusts. If the pulse is not present begin CPR.

When to stop rescue breathing

  • If the victim begins to breathe on his or her own.
  • More advanced medical personnel takes over.
  • If your are exhausted to continue
  • If there is no pulse, discontinue rescue breathing and continue with CPR