How to Handle Common Fears Over Performing CPR

Anxiety can hit anyone, especially those who are not trained to handle medical situations. Believe it or not, even health practitioners can panic over the prospect of performing CPR.

CPR is not something one expects to do every day, but it is a skill that can save lives. We have heard stories about people collapsing in train stations, along a sidewalk, on a plane, or just about anywhere. Sometimes, medics may not be able to arrive on time.

There are hundreds of heroic stories of people, who have applied CPR until help arrives. However, there are many who remain hesitant to come to the rescue and perform CPR. Here are five of the most common fears over performing CPR and the mitigating factors that you need to know.

Uncertainty of one’s CPR skills

Even after receiving CPR training, some people remain unsure of their ability to perform it when the occasion arises. There is no better way to keep up with what is new in CPR emergency first aid  than to regularly go for refresher training. Aside from in-person training courses, CPR courses are now available online, 24/7. There is nothing like an added boost of confidence to shake off that anxiety when you receive quality CPR instruction to save lives

Potential harm to victim

People are afraid that they will be blamed by the victim’s family. You need not fear doing more harm to a victim. CPR is used only under these conditions: unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing (or not breathing normally). In reality, applying CPR cannot make the situation worse. What it does is buy them time till they get real help.


The fear of getting sued can often be a cause of inaction. Lay rescuers are considered good samaritans. Good samaritan laws exist in every state; they protect an individual from lawsuits while providing emergency medical care under these conditions:  

  • The rescuer is trying to help
  • The rescuer’s actions are reasonable
  • The rescuer does not receive specific compensation for performing CPR.


Some people fear contracting a disease from blood or body fluids of the victim. A health practitioner can prepare for this by carrying around a set of personal protective equipment (PPE) and a face shield. But if you are just an ordinary citizen, you can always opt for a “hands only” CPR. Applying CPR this way for three to five minutes can mean the difference in saving a life.

Unsafe scene

The surrounding area where the victim is could pose a danger also to you, like fire, downed electrical wires, or some other natural disaster area. Always survey the area to make sure you are safe if you decide to enter it to help. If you are not sure, call Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first. 
There are estimates that as few as 5% of people survive a cardiac arrest outside a hospital but that rate doubles when CPR is immediately given.  You could be a lifesaver. Fears can either make us fight, take flight, or freeze. Knowing now that your fears have mitigating factors, we hope you become more comfortable about performing CPR when the situation arises. The life you save might even be that of a loved one.

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