How CPR is not like in the movies

By Kathryn Dunmore, Canadian Red Cross

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is depicted in many ways on-screen, often for the benefit of the movie or show’s drama or timeframe.

Too often, performing CPR can be depicted as too quick, too slow, not performing enough compressions between breaths, or simply shown as a quick administration that a person walks away from without need for any additional medical support. It is also important to recognize that the rescuers involved have experienced something unexpected which may cause feelings of stress or trauma and they may require emotional and psychological support.

Instead of focusing on how incorrectly CPR can be depicted, we want to focus on the accuracy of a few simple steps – steps which could save lives!

First aid training helps us become comfortable with life-saving techniques such as CPR. This article is not a replacement for training, but to show how easy it can be to help save a life.

To help us become more comfortable in taking action, we recently teamed up with Snapchat to teach CPR using a new augmented reality lens.

Download the latest version of the app and use the lens to learn how to restart a heart.

Performing CPR

Early CPR remains one of the most critical factors in surviving cardiac arrest. The basic steps when coming upon someone unresponsive and not breathing include:
  • Get help – call 911 or your local emergency number to activate your local emergency medical system.
  • Start chest compressions to keep the blood flowing.

Taking action is important to increasing chance of survival. We know there are many concerns when considering to help so we addressed them in this article, Debunking Myths around performing CPR.

Learning and practicing CPR and going through scenarios in a first aid/CPR course helps individuals to feel more comfortable and builds their confidence to respond and take action when help is needed.

Find a course near you and learn more at


See your impact in action.

Sign up to receive impact updates from the Canadian Red Cross, inspirational stories from the field and be the first to hear about emergency relief efforts.

The Canadian Red Cross takes your privacy seriously. We do not distribute or sell your email address to anyone. View our privacy policy.

Blog Archives