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CPR in Movies – Which Films Did It Right and Which Need CPR Training

CPR in Movies - Which Need CPR Training Image

CPR in Movies – Which Films Did It Right and Which Need CPR Training

Hollywood features all sorts of unique situations in films – blowing up buildings, a trial against a supposed felon, and even using their CPR training to save a life! Often times, the creators do their research to ensure they get the science behind it right, but sometimes they make mistakes and forget to, for example, take basic CPR training! It is not uncommon to see CPR in movies, but more than often they have a habit of doing it incorrectly. Do you know which movies got it right versus those that are displaying the incorrect CPR steps? Here we break down which Hollywood films did CPR right and those that need a bit more training!

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

The Scene:

This hysterical film features Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas who have been sucked into a video game version of Jumanji. In the film, the characters only have a certain number of lives, and if they are ‘killed’ or succumb to one of their weaknesses, their soul will be stuck forever in the game. In this scene, Alex is down to his last life and then, just as success is around the corner, he is bitten by a mosquito – his biggest weakness. The character falls to the ground and Bethany (played by Jack Black) runs to the rescue. Bethany states that she won’t let him go and begins to perform CPR. Dwayne’s character, Spencer, walks Bethany through the steps of CPR – breaths and compressions. Suddenly, Bethany realizes she can give one of her game lives to Alex through CPR. After a few more breaths, Alex wakes up with a start, alive once more and in the game!

Were they Right?

No! They need some CPR Training, and here is why:

  • WRONG: Spencer tells Bethany that she needs to give ‘3 chest compressions and then mouth-to-mouth.’ This is incorrect. The correct way to give CPR is to do 30 chest compressions and then give 2 breaths, repeating until the person is breathing once more.
  • WRONG: The depth of the compressions in the film appear as small pushes on Alex’s chest. Actual compressions have to be much firmer, pushing deeply in the centre of the person’s chest. For adults, the compressions must be 5cm in depth, while children and babies need a compression depth about 1/3 of their chest.
  • WRONG: The breaths in the film are given repeatedly after only 3 short compressions. Bethany leans down to continue offering breath after breath after breath. But in order to give the best chance of survival, she would need to return to chest compressions afterwards.


San Andreas

The Scene:

Yet another film featuring Dwayne the Rock Johnson, and CPR is the only thing standing between the life and death of his character’s daughter. In this scene, Raymond Gaines is trying to save his daughter, Blake, who is trapped in a room as the building is beginning to tumble down around them. The water level begins to rise in her new prison and soon she realizes that she will drown. Saying her final goodbyes to her father, she falls below the water and soon becomes unconscious. Raymond refuses to give up and swims around to find an alternative route to get to her. Finally, he is able to kick down a submerged window, grabs his daughter, and swims to air. They bring the limp Blake to a nearby table and Raymond begins to perform CPR on her while the building continues to collapse. The group narrowly escapes the demolished building by way of boat and all the while Raymond continues giving Blake CPR. For a while nothing happens, and the others begin to think she is dead. Raymond continues compressions until finally Blake spits out the water and returns to consciousness.

Were they Right?

For the most part! Here is what they did right and wrong:

  • RIGHT: The scene is filmed in an action sequence, so the screen often cuts from one shot to another. With this in mind, it is difficult to say whether Raymond gives a total of 30 chest compressions or not. Otherwise, the depth and strength he uses for each compression seems to be accurate.
  • WRONG: Unfortunately, the film shows Raymond giving only one breath before going back to compressions. Two breaths should be given for every 30 compressions!
  • WRONG: The final mistake made was the pace that Raymond was giving the compressions. He was going much too fast for it to be the most effective. Compressions should be given to the tune of “Staying Alive” (roughly 120 per minute). Although in this scene, given that the family was on the escape from a collapsing building, we will forgive the speed of his compressions and justify it as his fear and anxiety overwhelming him.

DID YOU KNOW: The CPR displayed in this film was actually the reason for another life saved – IN REAL LIFE! A young boy named Jacob, saved his brother from drowning using the skills he learned from the San Andreas film. Dwayne Johnson was so proud that he took the time to meet this real-life, young hero!


Jurassic Park

The Scene:

To escape the dinosaurs a small group of survivors, Grant, Tim and Lex, have decided to climb over an electrical fence that is no longer working. The group slowly makes their way over the large fence, being careful not to fall. Meanwhile, Ellie is elsewhere and is working to charge up the system once more, not knowing that Grant and the kids are currently climbing the fence. She slowly follows the instructions to reboot system and manages to recharge it and turn it on. Having done this, an alarm begins to sound at the electrical fence, notifying Grant, Tim, and Lex that it will be turned on soon. Grant and Lex have made it down but Tim is still hanging on to the fence, struggling to get down. They yell at him to jump, and Tim counts up to 3 to build up the courage. Unfortunately, the fence is turned on before he reaches ‘3’ and he is shocked off of the fence and into the arms of Grant. After realizing that Tim isn’t breathing, Grant begins CPR right away giving compressions and breaths. After some time, the young boy gains consciousness and finishes his countdown.

Were They Right?

Nope! Here is why Grant could have done well with some CPR training:

  • WRONG: Like many movies, there seems to be a misunderstanding of how to accurately perform CPR. In this scene Grant seems to give a few compressions, followed by one breath, and then back to a dozen or so of the compressions. This is incorrect. What should be done is to give 30 compressions for every 2 breaths!
  • RIGHT: The one thing that Grant does seem to be doing correctly is the pace of the compressions. From the short amount of time that he is performing CPR, it appears the compressions are done at a good speed and depth for a child Tim’s size.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Scene:

Katniss and Peeta are on the run to survive the unknown dangers found in this year’s Hunger Games. Travelling with Finnick and Mags, the going is slow, but Peeta uses his machete to cut through the dense jungle in their path. Just as he goes to cut another section down, Katniss notices a small flicker in the sky and realizes too late that it is the barrier of the arena. Peeta swings once more as Katniss shouts a warning, but Peeta hits the barrier and is shocked and thrown backwards. Finnick pushes Katniss out of the way and immediately begins CPR – giving compressions and breaths to the unconscious and not breathing Peeta. After pausing to check for breathing Finnick continues performing CPR, and after a while Peeta takes a gasp for air.

Were They Right?

Mostly! Finnick must have taken a CPR training course or two in his days of the Hunger Games training, because his skills are pretty good:

  • RIGHT: Finnick ensures that between compressions he is giving two good breaths, and then moving back to compressions. The compressions are well paced and appear to be of a good depth.
  • WRONG: The only thing that may cause some doubt in Finnick’s skills is the amount of compressions he is giving. It is unclear with the constant switching of scenes (back and forth from Katniss’s expression to the unconscious Peeta), how many compressions he is actually giving.
  • WRONG: Another thing that may be in question of Finnick’s CPR skills is when he takes a moment to stop and look for any signs of breathing. He puts his ear towards Peeta’s mouth to listen and looks for any movement of his chest. Although this may be acceptable prior to starting CPR, it does not make much sense to do it between compressions. It is better to continue performing CPR until the person is noticeably conscious and breathing.


Spider-Man 3

The Scene:

After a duel with the newest Goblin, now identified as his old friend Harry, Peter is able to get the upper hand and sends the Goblin falling to the ground after some harsh hits. Peter runs over to Harry to ensure he is down and to stop the fight. He yells Harry’s name but gets no response. He leans over and notices that Harry is completely unconscious. After a closer look, it also appears that Harry is not breathing. Peter rips open Harry’s shirt and begins to give compressions. After about 11 compressions Peter stops, leans down, and checks again for any sign of breathing. Hearing nothing, he sits up and looks around for help. No one is around so Peter finally picks up Harry and carries him to the nearest hospital. In the hospital, Harry is shocked by a defibrillator but is not revived, much to the sadness of Peter.

Were They Right?

Not at all. Here is why Spider-Man needs a refresher course in CPR training:

  • WRONG: When realizing that his friend wasn’t breathing, Peter immediately ripped open Harry’s shirt to give compressions. Although it is not a significant error, Peter would not need to remove the clothing unless he was going to use an AED.
  • WRONG: The compressions that Peter gives are more like heavy, drawn out punches made upon Harry’s chest. He does a poor job to keep any sense of timing and does not seem to count how many compressions he is doing.
  • WRONG: Although breaths are not required for CPR (doing the compressions only option is found to be just as helpful), it is worth noting that Peter does not give any breaths. Instead he spends his time giving poor compressions and yelling at his unconscious friend.
  • WRONG: After only a dozen compressions, Peter seems to give up and looks around for help. He stops giving CPR and instead takes the time to carry Harry to the nearest hospital. The problem is that every second without oxygen getting to the brain is another second closer to severe brain damage, if not death. The time he wasted carrying him to a hospital would have been better served giving more compressions (no matter how delayed or incorrect they were).
  • WRONG: One thing to note about the scene is that once Harry is brought to the hospital he is given shocks from an AED by the medical staff. Assuming that the hospital was not close by, Harry would have been deceased, deprived too long of oxygen. Once brought in, the doctors would have quickly realized that Harry had died and an AED would not have been helpful at that time. AEDs are only used to stabilize a sporadic heart rate, not to revive a flat-lined heart. (Want to know how an AED really works? We have the answer!)



You now have first-hand proof that Hollywood may not have everything right, especially when it comes to life-saving techniques! It is important to know how to truly save a life with CPR and taking the correct CPR training will make a big impact. Know the correct way to help in an emergency and you could just save a life in the real-world!


Want to get CPR certified? First Edition First Aid Training offers courses to ensure that you are taught: how to do CPR properly, how to use an AED, and other first aid life-saving skills. Register for a course today and become confident that you could be the difference between life and death!


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