About fifteen years ago, I decided to take a certification class in Standard First Aid & Adult CPR through the American Red Cross. I had thought about taking a class for many years and finally took the initiative to register and attend a class. I didn’t take the class because I required the training for my job/workplace. I took the class because I wanted to learn these important lifesaving skills and have this knowledge should I ever encounter a situation where these skills may be needed. Since then, I’ve continued to train and re-certify every couple of years, as required, to stay current, refresh my skills and maintain my certification.
I remember the first class I ever took was a full day class conducted at the American Red Cross in Greater New York headquarters then located on Amsterdam Avenue. The class was for Standard First Aid & Adult CPR with AED. It ran from 9am to 5pm with a couple of short breaks and a break for lunch. I opted to take the combined class, but you could register for Standard First Aid and Adult CPR with AED as two separate classes. From a cost-savings perspective, the combined class made sense.
The class was instructor-led and incorporated the use of video and hands-on practice/skills sessions. The class covered information and skills including learning how to recognize emergencies, learning about Good Samaritan Laws and obtaining consent before providing care, learning and understanding the emergency action steps (Check-Call-Care), the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) and the links in the Cardiac Chain of Survival, learning how to prevent against disease transmission when providing caring, learning how to properly care for various emergencies and life threatening conditions, learning how to properly perform abdominal thrusts, rescue breathing and CPR, learning how to setup and use an AED and much more.
Portions of the class were physically demanding (ex: learning/practicing CPR) and for someone who’s never gone through the exercise before, there was a level of intensity. I remember feeling tired and sore later that evening and the day after from kneeling next to the mannequins for a prolonged period, bending over to practice rescue breathing & giving rescue breaths and from performing chest compressions. That said, the classroom experience simulated what a real world situation might feel like. The instructors were highly skilled, knowledgeable and took the time to make sure every student got the skills portion down during the practice sessions and it was essential to get the skills down to gain certification.
Back then certifications for Standard First Aid at the American Red Cross were valid for three years and certifications for CPR with AED were valid for one year. Today, certifications for both First Aid and CPR with AED are valid for two years; the classes are shorter and more focused on key skills making classes more effective and time efficient. Some classes are also available as hybrid classes where you can take a portion online and then take the physical skills portion at one of the training sites. All the more reason to take the opportunity to register for a class, get trained and certified. Personally, I prefer the instructor-led classes. Like any other skill, if you don’t actively use it, you become rusty, so it doesn’t hurt to get back into a classroom environment to re-learn these skills that may one day help to save a life. I’ve also found that each instructor brings something new to the table so there’s added-value.
Just to clarify, the training and certification I’m referring is for a layperson or lay responder and not a professional rescuer or First Responder. If you require training and certification for a job/workplace, be sure to verify with your job/workplace on the type of training they require and if there are specific organizations from which they will accept certification. In many cases, training and certification from organizations like the American Red Cross and American Heart Association will meet the requirements provided you take the proper training and certification course for your respective job/workplace.
There is a growing initiative to get more people trained in what is called “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR” which focuses on CPR with chest compressions only whereas conventional CPR incorporates rescue breaths with chest compressions. Hands-Only CPR or Compression-Only CPR is recommended in cases where you have a bystander who sees a teen or adult suddenly collapse. In “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR,” a bystander simply needs to do two things: First, call 9-1-1. Second, begin chest compressions. Keep in mind that “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR” does not replace conventional CPR training and certification nor does it meet the requirements for a job/workplace that requires CPR training and certification.