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

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also called CPR, is an emergency life-saving procedure involving 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 parts and organs to help lower the likelihood of brain damage and/or death.

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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, which can increase the possibility of death or brain damage to a cardiac arrest victim. 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 perform it during an emergency effectively. 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 the hospital, where not all bystanders have the training and confidence to perform CPR. If students acquire appropriate CPR skills, they can save lives by administering the procedure as soon as possible.

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 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 several reasons (such as when working directly with children like in the school environment, fellow employees, and patients). When students receive CPR certification in the classroom, they will enter 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, some organizations 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, teaching CPR in the classroom is more than worthwhile. According to the study, approximately 90% of the children aged nine to 18 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 could not 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 can process and handle more serious adult challenges than they are often credited for. Anecdotal evidence shows that kids can 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 your school’s kids by working with the school and relevant partners.

Whoever you settle on providing the training should have an updated CPR certification. You can do this yourself by taking and passing the certification upfront or contracting an outside organization for the training. 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. CPR training may not be available for younger students even if your state is included. Getting in touch with an organization that provides CPR training can streamline the process of bringing CPR to your classroom.

Is online-only CPR certification training acceptable?

Yes, according to OSHA, online CPR certification training is acceptable, provided that a medical facility or hospital is nearby and you’re not operating within a “special industry”, for example, ocean diving, as defined by OSHA. Yes, online CPR certification training is permissible for teachers, staff, and administrators, which means that the National CPR Foundation is legitimate, and other online training providers.

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 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 become interested in learning CPR.

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

If you are considering CPR training for your classroom, ensure 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, and many other organizations provide certified CPR and First Aid training to schools throughout the United States.