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Medical emergencies like cardiac arrest can happen to anyone anywhere, including in the classroom environment.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also referred to as CPR, is an emergency life-saving procedure that involves chest compression and rescue breathing to save cardiac arrest victims. While CPR will likely not restart the victim’s heart, it will most certainly buy time while awaiting the arrival of the emergency team. The goal of CPR is to sustain blood flow to the body’s vital body parts and organs in order to help lower the likelihood of brain damage and/or death.

Why CPR is needed in the classroom

Children can suffer from cardiac arrest at school. This group of people spends most of their time in the classroom or at sporting events with their teachers and peers. In these situations, survival rates can increase when teachers and students have the skills to perform proper CPR while awaiting the arrival of the emergency team. As such, CPR training in the classroom allows learners to take action rather than becoming helpless bystanders during an emergency.

Performed in time, CPR can increase the victim’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, most bystanders lack the skills or confidence to perform this emergency procedure, and this can increase the possibility of death or brain damage to a cardiac arrest victim. This is why it is important for everyone, including teachers and students, to receive CPR training.

Here are some of the benefits that teachers and students can get from CPR training:

1. Gain sufficient CPR knowledge

As already indicated, not everyone has cardiopulmonary resuscitation knowledge. Some would claim they know a thing or two about CPR. However, their knowledge of this procedure may not be adequate to effectively perform this procedure during an emergency. Having sufficient CPR knowledge means that you can perform the procedure at the right speed, depth, and sequence.

2. Save lives

Most cardiac arrest cases happen outside of the hospital environment, where not all bystanders have the training and confidence to perform CPR. If students acquire appropriate CPR skills, they can certainly save lives by administering the procedure as soon as it is required.

3. Safe and secure learning or working environment

Schools do everything in their capacity to create a safe working and learning environment for students and teachers, ensuring that parents too have peace of mind knowing that their children are surrounded by peers and teachers who are knowledgeable in CPR. Ensuring that all students, teachers, and other staff have CPR training builds a more secure work and learning environment for everyone.

4. Certification fulfills a possible work requirement

Most employers consider CPR certification an important prerequisite for their employees for a number of reasons (such as when they are working directly with children like in the school environment, fellow employees, and patients). When students receive CPR certification in the classroom, they will get into the job market with one certification already in hand.

So, is CPR training needed in the classroom?

Currently, over 35 states across the U.S have made CPR training a mandatory requirement before graduating from high school. And this trend is rapidly increasing throughout the country. Fortunately, there are organizations that offer comprehensive CPR training and certification to individuals and groups.

But are kids capable of learning CPR?

According to Dr. Fritz’s 2009 study CPR for school kids, it is more than worthwhile to teach CPR in the classroom. According to the study, approximately 90% of the children aged nine to 18 years performed the procedure correctly. This means that hands-only CPR is effective for children to learn, just as it is for adults.

The same study showed that while most students retained the skills, most were unable to perform chest compressions to the right depth. This indicates that children, based on their physical strengths, are better placed to perform CPR on other children. However, there have been instances where children have successfully performed CPR on adults and saved lives.

Naturally, kids are often attentive and eager to learn new stuff – and they are able to process and handle serious adult challenges than they are often credited for. Anecdotal evidence shows that kids are able to assess situations, respond calmly, remember acquired skills, and save lives.

How to bring CPR training into the classroom

According to the American Heart Association, children as young as nine can learn CPR. And you can bring this essential skill to the kids in your school by working with both the school as well as relevant partners.

Whoever you settle on to provide the training should have an updated CPR certification. You can do this yourself by taking and passing the certification upfront or contract an outside organization for the training. Various organizations like the National CPR Foundation, American Heart Association, and the Red Cross have CPR courses specially tailored for children. You can also approach the local fire and emergency response departments to provide CPR training for your students.

As already indicated, some states require CPR to be taught to all high school students. Even if your state is included, there may not be CPR training available for younger students. Getting in touch with an organization that provides CPR training can streamline the process of bringing CPR to your classroom.

Choosing the right CPR training provider for your classroom

So you have decided to bring CPR training into your classroom. Congratulations! But, how do you find the right provider? What traits should the trainer possess to turn CPR training into an exciting learning experience that will deliver what you are looking for?

There are three traits every CPR trainer must possess in order to make this training enjoyable to young learners: Humor, passion, and experience.

For your students to develop an interest in CPR training, the instructor must be passionate about their job. Unfortunately, most instructors are never passionate about their training. This results in a boring and repetitive class. The instructor should set an exciting tone so the students may develop an interest in learning CPR.

Next, the instructor should have a good sense of humor. CPR and First Aid are very complex subjects, especially when keeping in mind that the learners will likely perform these procedures on fellow students. Thus, if the tone is quite heavy, the class will barely be fun and interesting. Tactful humor is key to keeping a light tone that ensures that learners retain the information they have learned. That said, the tone should not be too light as to downplay the importance of learning the skills.

If you are considering CPR training for your classroom, make sure the individual offering this training is a certified CPR instructor. Most bodies providing CPR training also recommend refresher training every two years to keep the skills sharp, learn about changes in the approach, and help strengthen the learners’ memory. The American Heart Association, the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, the Red Cross, as well as many other organizations provide certified CPR and First Aid training to schools throughout the United States.