CPR Recertification
You just gotta do it!

CPR Recertification is one of those things that you must do if you are a practicing EMT. You should do it at least every year. When I first became an EMT back in the 1980's we did a lot of initial training in CPR. In fact my EMT program spent almost three weeks with CPR practicals. We actually got to the point where our bodies remembered the training better than our heads.

This is both good and bad. The good is that I don't need to remember how to CPR, my body takes over. The bad is that I might end up doing the old methods rather than the new and improved methods.

On the flip side, the new CPR programs have you trained as a health care provider only a few hours. This is also good and bad. The good is that we have a lot more people who know CPR out there. The bad is that since their initial training was not as intensive they forget their skills more quickly.

The solution to both problems, of course, is CPR recertification. We can refresh our new skills and break old and outdated habits. The new standards are truly better than what we had before. There is much real evidence and a lot of anecdotal evidence. Click here to review a summary about new CPR research

I was originally skeptical. I thought 15:2 compressions to ventilations was more than adequate and downright hard for a single person. It was much easier to do two rescuer 5:1 (remember those days?). When I heard of going to 30:2 compressions to ventilations I thought they had to be kidding. If that was so good, why not 50:2? The data appears to support the 30:2. I have a story...

In the summer of 2006 (after we had been retrained with the new 2005 AHA standards) we had a call for a 40 year old male in cardiac arrest. The police arrived on scene and began CPR. My crew (actually an engine company on the local volunteer fire department) responded and found the police preforming the standard 5:1 ratio and had administered a single shock with subsequent "No shock advised" messages (they had not yet been updated to the new protocols). We got there and immediately began 30:2 for two minutes and hit the "Analyze" button. Lo and behold it said "Shock advised" and we got one in. This was followed by a positive pulse check and resumption of respiration. The patient did not regain consciousness at the scene but was discharged a week later. A save.

Was it the new protocols that saved him? Was the prompt action by the PD on scene? Was it just not his time? Who knows for sure, it's probably a combination of all three. In any case, I am now a believer.

Whatever the reason, take your CPR recertification and remember why you do what you do.

The American Heart Association has begun to make recertification easier. The have now developed a process where you can take the lecture part of the recertification on-line. They charge a nominal fee of $17.50 (US). When completed you get to print out a certificate which you can then bring to a CPR instructor to evaluate your skills. So instead of having to commit 3 to 4 hours for recertification, you can spend your time wisely and then only have to commit to about 1 hour for testing. There are some great advantages to taking the American Heart Association on-line CPR Recertification:

  • It's on-line (duh). You can do the course where ever you want
  • You have 12 months from the time you start the on-line course to finish it - no more excuses about not having time
  • You have 6 months from the time you finish the on-line course to get skills evaluated

You can sign-in to the American Heart Associations on-line learning page here (warning! Link opens a new window)

When done with the course you need to find a CPR instructor to evaluate your skills. 

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