CPR First Aid

How To Do CPR On a Big Bulky Person

How To Do CPR On a Big Bulky Person?

No matter what you do and where you are in the world, one of the most important skills to have is the ability to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. One never knows when it is needed, but when things happen such as sudden cardiac arrest, you’ll be glad that you know what to do to help save a life. 

Despite how important this skill is, it must be said that it is a very intricate procedure. This is precisely why people need to become certified before using it. 

Even with the strict procedure though, like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. One exception that we’ll be looking at closely is how to do it on a big bulky person.

A Quick Review

Let’s take a few minutes to first review the ins and outs of this process. What exactly is cardiopulmonary resuscitation? When is it needed and how is it done? 

What Is It?

This type of resuscitation is a procedure that is done during emergencies. This procedure combines man-powered artificial ventilation (via the breaths through the mouths) as well as chest compressions. 

The former is done to introduce oxygen into the system and preserve the functions of the brain. The latter is done to mirror how the heart beats. Both are done in order to restart blood circulation in a person. 

In truth, resuscitation is done to preserve slivers of life until medical personnel come. As such, resuscitation is best done in batches, as there is no telling when help will come. The best practice is to do it in groups of people who all know how to do it.

When Is It Needed?

Resuscitation is useful and needed in many emergency situations. One example is during a heart attack. 

When a person is undergoing a heart attack, the heart fails to pump blood throughout the various parts of the body. This means that essential parts, like the brain and the lungs, are not operating. If left unattended, it could very well lead to death. 

Apart from that, near drowning is another emergency where resuscitation comes in handy. Saltwater and freshwater have different effects on a person’s blood. However, the result always lands on cardiac arrest yet again. 

In some cases, resuscitation can be done with compressions only. With drowning though, people should always use both compressions and ventilation.

A Review of the Correct Process


Prior to providing resuscitation, there are several things that must be checked first. They can easily be remembered through the mnemonic DRSABCD. This stands for: 

  • Check for Dangers
  • Check for Responsiveness
  • Send for Help
  • Check a person’s Airway for any obstructions
  • Check a person’s Breathing
  • Perform CPR
  • Use a Defibrillator 

As one can see, there are several things that must be checked first before resuscitation. These steps are meant to keep the victim and person giving first aid safe. They are also meant to ensure that a person does need resuscitation. 

The Process

The whole resuscitation process starts by kneeling beside the victim. Then, find the lower half of the sternum. 

Using the dominant hand, place the heel at the centre of the person’s chest, with the other hand behind. With straightened arms, arms and wrists locked in place, start the compressions reaching a third of the chest depth. 

Continue this 30 times, with two compressions happening each second. Then give two mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths. 

Bear in mind that this process is for standard adults. There are several situations where certain procedures and counts change. One of them is with big and bulky people. 

How to Resuscitate Big and Bulky People?

The beauty of cardiac resuscitation is that learning about the standard procedure goes a long way. After that, it is all a matter of learning the changes between certain frames, conditions and builds. 

The good thing to know is that standard resuscitation procedures work well with big and bulky people. With that said though, it must be stated that the higher the body mass index (BMI) of a person, the lower the actual quality of resuscitation becomes.

The increased BMI gets in the way of the standard compression depth outlined in the correct procedures. 

Increasing Resuscitation Quality 

Fortunately, there is an easy work around to increase the quality of resuscitation these people get. 

The simple solution here is to find someone bigger and stronger to do the compressions. The additional strength added will allow for the compressions to reach a third of their chest depth. 

Take note that strength is not everything though. The strength of the compressions must be tempered with the right speed as well. Thus, stamina and coordination also play a big factor in it.

Other Unique Resuscitation Procedures


Resuscitation on children is a little different. The process is the same, but the compression depth and rate are different. For compressions, rescuers should use two fingers placed at the lower half of the sternum. The compression depth must only be a third of the chest’s anteroposterior diameter or 1.5 inches. Lastly, the compression rate should be 100 to 120 times per minute.


When it comes to infants, certain details also differ slightly. The process is once again the same, but there are some changes in compression depth and rate as well as ventilation volume and ratio.

For compressions, rescuers should use two fingers placed at the lower half of the sternum. The compression depth must only be a third of the infant’s anteroposterior diameter or 1.5 inches. Lastly, the compression rate should be 100 to 120 times per minute.

Pregnant Women

One major concern for people is providing compressions and ventilation to pregnant women. The concern stems from their worry about possibly damaging the baby. Fortunately, resuscitation is perfectly safe to do on pregnant women.

The only difference is that people providing care are instructed to shift the abdomen area to the left side in order to relieve some pressure in their uterus.

Bear in mind though that if a person is in cardiac arrest, the child’s rate of survival is very low.

What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Understandably, many people are hesitant in resuscitating someone who needs it. This is because of the possibility of causing damage. In truth, it is a high-pressure procedure after all. There are several things that could go wrong, but it is the best chance for survival in many cases.


One of the things that could go wrong is a rib fracture. This usually happens when too much force is used during compressions. It may even lead to a punctured lung. Although this seems bad, it is still better than the alternative which is death.


Another thing that could go wrong is if the rescuer exhausts themselves. It is a strenuous activity and sometimes, people get tired in the middle of doing it. When this happens, another person should take over until medical assistance arrives.

One of the Most Important Skills

CPR is one of the most important first aid skills you can learn. Its importance and versatility can serve to save many people throughout a lifetime. Apart from learning how to do it, we hope that you have also learned the many intricacies and exceptions across various age groups and body compositions.

Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other essential life saving skills by taking CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course today.

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