CPR Refresher Step 2: Check for a Pulse

Pulse Check on an Adult and Child

On an adult and child the best way to check for a pulse is to place the index finger and middle finger on the side of the neck over the carotid artery. To find the carotid artery, place your index and middle fingers on the trachea (the bony prominence in the center of the throat) and slide the fingers down into the groove between the trachea and the neck muscles until you feel the pulse. Rescuers should practice finding their own carotid pulse, or practice with a partner. The first time you feel a carotid pulse should not be when you are providing CPR!

Check for a pulse for at least 5 seconds, but no more than 10. If you cannot detect a pulse, or are unsure whether the victim has a pulse, begin CPR, by giving 30 chest compressions.


Checking the Pulse on an Infant

On an infant, place your index finger and middle finger on the brachial artery. The brachial artery is located in the infant’s upper arm between the 2 muscles inside the arm. Be advised, it can be difficult to locate the pulse on an infant. Try to groove your fingers so that they are positioned between the muscles on inside of the arm and keep still. Do not delay more than 10 seconds searching for a pulse.

Check for a pulse for at least 5 seconds, but no more than 10. If you cannot detect a pulse, or are unsure whether the infant has a pulse, begin CPR, by giving 30 chest compressions.


Step 3: Chest Compressions