CPR Basics: A Refresher Guide for Support Workers

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a crucial skill for disability support workers. In emergency situations, the ability to perform CPR effectively can mean the difference between life and death. This Learning Series Blog from Medecs Learning provides a quick refresher on CPR basics according to the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) guidelines.

Your prompt and skilled intervention can save lives.



Understanding CPR


What is CPR?

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is an emergency procedure performed when the heart stops beating. It involves chest compressions and artificial ventilation to manually preserve brain function until further measures can restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing.

Why is CPR Important for Disability Support Workers?

As a disability support worker, you are often the first responder in emergencies involving the individuals you care for. Knowing how to perform CPR correctly ensures you can provide immediate assistance, increasing the chances of survival and recovery for the person in distress.


The DRSABCD Action Plan

The DRSABCD action plan is a step-by-step guide recommended by the ARC for responding to emergency situations.


D – Danger

  • Check for danger: Ensure the area is safe for yourself, the patient, and bystanders.
  • Remove hazards: If possible, eliminate any immediate dangers.


R – Response

  • Check for response: Gently shake the person and ask loudly, “Are you okay?”
  • No response? If the person does not respond, proceed to the next step.


S – Send for Help

  • Call Triple Zero (000): Request an ambulance immediately.
  • Stay on the line: Follow any instructions provided by the emergency operator.


A – Airway

  • Open the airway: Tilt the head back and lift the chin to open the airway.
  • Check for obstructions: Remove any visible blockages from the mouth and throat.


B – Breathing

  • Check for normal breathing: Look, listen, and feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds.
  • Not breathing normally? If the person is not breathing or only gasping, begin CPR.



  • Start chest compressions: Place the heel of your hand on the centre of the person’s chest, then place your other hand on top. Interlock your fingers.
  • Compression rate and depth: Perform compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute and a depth of 5-6 cm.
  • Rescue breaths: After 30 compressions, give 2 rescue breaths. Pinch the nose, seal your lips over the person’s mouth, and blow until the chest rises.
  • Continue CPR: Repeat the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 breaths.


D – Defibrillation

  • Attach an AED: If an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is available, turn it on and follow the prompts.
  • Continue CPR: Continue CPR until the AED is ready to analyse the heart rhythm or emergency responders take over.



Key Points in Performing CPR


Chest Compressions

  • Correct hand placement: Position your hands on the lower half of the sternum.
  • Proper technique: Keep your arms straight and use your body weight to apply compressions.
  • Consistency: Maintain a steady rhythm to ensure effective compressions.


Rescue Breaths

  • Airway management: Ensure the airway remains open while delivering rescue breaths.
  • Effective breaths: Each breath should be enough to make the chest rise visibly.


Using an AED

  • Importance of AED: AEDs are crucial in restarting the heart by delivering a controlled electric shock.
  • Follow instructions: AEDs are designed to be user-friendly with voice prompts guiding you through the process.



CPR for Special Populations


Children and Infants

  • Differences in technique: Use one hand for chest compressions in children and two fingers for infants.
  • Compression depth: Compress the chest about one-third the depth of the chest (4-5 cm for children, 3-4 cm for infants).


Individuals with Disabilities

  • Adaptations: Be aware of any specific needs or physical limitations the individual might have.
  • Personal care plans: Follow any personalised care plans or emergency instructions provided for the individual.



After the Emergency


Post-Resuscitation Care

  • Monitor the person: Continue to monitor the person until emergency services arrive.
  • Provide reassurance: Offer comfort and reassurance to the person once they regain consciousness.


Reporting the Incident

  • Document the event: Record the details of the incident and the care provided.
  • Follow-up: Ensure the individual receives appropriate medical follow-up and support.




CPR is an essential skill for disability support workers. Regularly refreshing your knowledge and practice, including staying updated with the latest guidelines, ensures you are prepared to act effectively in emergencies. Remember, your prompt and skilled intervention can save lives.

The Medecs Learning CPR Refresher course is designed for support workers, giving you the time you need to practise crucial skills with experienced sector instructors focusing on potential events you are likely to encounter as a support worker.


Find out more about our CPR and Refresher Courses!