Checking For A Pulse: Layperson rescuers should not check for a pulse while performing CPR. The average person has little practice in obtaining a pulse therefore it is unrealistic to expect accuracy during an emergency situation. You should assume that unless the victim wakes up during your assessment or shows signs of life during CPR that the person is pulseless and needs CPR to be continued. Healthcare Providers or persons trained in checking for a pulse may do so if they feel comfortable. When checking for a pulse, you should check the carotid pulse (due to sympathetic response). If you check for a pulse and do not feel a pulse or are not sure if a pulse is present begin CPR immediately.
If a person is unresponsive, has a pulse, and CPR is performed: no ill effect (other than rib fracture) or cardiovascular damage will occur. Therefore, always err on the side that the victim is pulseless and begin CPR as soon as possible.
Next: Hands Only CPR