If you saw a teen or adult suddenly collapse in front of you, would you know how to perform CPR? No? That's OK -- there are only two steps you need to remember: 1) Call 911; 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the Bee Gees' song "Stayin' Alive."
"By doing that, you can actually double or triple the chance of survival," says Dr. Alson S. Inaba, a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the doctor who discovered that the rate of compressions correctly aligns with the beat of the disco hit.
For potential rescuers who may be nervous about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, that's good news -- you don't need to help the victim breathe in order to be a lifesaver.
"An adult who suddenly arrests in front of you probably arrested because of a rhythm problem called ventricular fibrillation, so when you have that, you don't really need to be breathing for them -- you just need to keep their heart and brain perfused [supplied with blood]," Dr. Inaba says. "Keep doing [compressions] until someone comes with an AED and shocks the victim and hopefully gets the heart back to a regular rhythm."
If you do know conventional CPR, Dr. Inaba adds, it's preferable to perform that instead of the hands-only method. "But if you had a choice of [doing] nothing or [doing compressions] until the paramedics arrive, we're saying go ahead and push on the chest until help arrives."
"With all the high-tech technology that [we] have to help these people," Dr. Inaba adds, "really what's gonna make a difference is the lay rescuer, the person who sees someone drop in front of them, the rescuer who has enough courage, compassion and caring in their heart to say 'I can do this.'"