I’ve never had to do CPR. I can imagine the tension and stress of having to perform it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be fully prepared for the possibility of hearing something crack while pressing into someone’s chest. It’s kind of sickening to think about.
When starting CPR, there might be a crack or something might give; not going to lie, it might be a bone, but more often than not, it’s the cartilage in the chest that connects the sternum to the ribs that’s breaking. For some reason I thought that would ease some minds, but as I write this, I realize that’s not really a more comforting thought.
Still, no matter if it’s the cartilage or a rib that breaks, you must continue to do CPR once you have started. You cannot be punished for broken ribs while performing CPR—unless you do something wildly stupid or break something on purpose. You cannot stop CPR unless you are physically or mentally unable to continue, you trade places with another volunteer, or medical professionals have come to relieve you. The reason for this is because voluntarily stopping means you deem the patient as already dead which is illegal.
On another note, you shouldn’t be afraid to break something, even if it sounds horrible, because the Civil Liability (Good Samaritan) Act will protect you from any legal repercussions as long as you don’t do something stupid. The idea is that broken bones will heal, death…not so much. And, more than likely, the person would prefer broken bones over death. If you start throwing the person around and causing injuries on purpose, then you won’t be covered and the patient has a valid case to sue you.
So it’s okay if something cracks when you do CPR, just don’t be dumb and you’ll be okay. Be safe.