The Five Fears of CPR Rescue

Video 2 of 49
5 min 8 sec
English, Español
English, Español

One common problem we see with training is when people have persistent fears that they can't shed, it prevents them from attempting to make a rescue.

In this lesson, we're going to address those fears and hopefully eliminate them, so you'll have the confidence to push through and make a difference when faced with an emergency.

The five fears are:

  1. Uncertainty of skills. You're worried that you don't know what to do, and that you'll do more harm than good.
  2. Might hurt or kill the patient. You're worried that a mistake on your part will spell trouble for the patient.
  3. Lawsuits. You're worried about getting sued, whether someone only thinks you did something wrong or you actually did do something wrong.
  4. Threat of contracting a disease. You're worried about blood and bodily fluids that contain pathogens that you would then contract.
  5. The scene is unsafe. You're worried that the scene may be unsafe and that you'll become a victim, too.

At first glance, these fears may sound reasonable. However, let's tackle them one by one using some common sense that should help you eliminate your fears, so that you can become the best rescuer that you can be.

Uncertain of Skills

This should only be a real concern if there's no way for you to refresh your training. However, since we designed our course content to be viewed whenever it's convenient for you, rather than when an instructor is ready to teach, there's really no excuse.

Whenever you feel that you're deficient in a particular area of training, go back to the training library for a refresher. It's self-paced and available 24/7. You can also ask a supervisor or someone with more experience for help.

Pro Tip #1: Effort and knowledge are the cures for uncertainty. If you put in the time and master your skills, this uncertainty will vanish, and you'll be amazed that you were ever apprehensive to begin with.

Might Hurt or Kill the Patient

When a person is unconscious, isn't breathing normally, and has no pulse, they're already dead. And while it may sound silly to say this, it's true: Their condition cannot get worse.

That patient will remain dead unless someone with life-saving skills gets involved. This alone should alleviate a lot of fear and worry about making the situation worse.

During CPR compressions, a lot of new students worry about the possibility of breaking ribs or injuring a patient some other way. But this isn't really possible. Read that first paragraph again – the patient is dead and cannot get worse. However, with help, they may get better.


The good news is that since 1985's Good Samaritan Act, people who attempt to help others are protected legally, with a couple of exceptions:

  • If you intended to hurt the victim
  • If you go above and beyond your level of training

The Good Samaritan Act has essentially immunized people from lawsuits when they try to help others in need.

Threat of Contracting a Disease

As long as you have your equipment with you, this shouldn't be much of a concern. Equipment like gloves and one-way rescue masks will keep those nasty pathogens, if there are any, on the patient's side, while you the rescuer remain on your side.

That's why we have this equipment – to help keep rescuers safe. So, make sure you have it with you and that you're using it, and this fear will quickly become a moot point.

A Word About Hands-Only CPR

Research has shown that, especially with adults and in the first few minutes, hands-only CPR is just as effective as full CPR. So, if you don't feel comfortable or confident in doing full CPR, or if you're lacking protective equipment, hands-only CPR will still benefit the patient.

The Scene is Unsafe

This is actually a legitimate fear and a reason to delay a rescue attempt. You can still call 911 and get EMS on the way. But if the scene is dangerous, don't do anything that will make you the next victim.

Don't be a hero. If you go into a situation that can get you hurt or killed, you'll be unable to perform the rescue you're there for, so you do no good to anyone. Remain at a safe distance until the scene becomes safe, and then go in.

These five fears prevent around 90 percent of people from using the skills they learned. It's natural to have them, but it's essential to shed them.

Put in the time and effort when it comes to your training and crush those fears. Become more empowered than you ever thought possible and go forth and rescue confidently.