How do I Choose the Best CPR Courses?

Dorothy Distefano

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) consists of a series of chest compressions and rescue breaths given to victims who are suspected of being in cardiac arrest. CPR can provide oxygen and blood flow in limited amounts, until normal heart rhythm and breathing is restored or emergency first responders arrive. CPR courses are designed to educate individuals in the appropriate techniques used in this life-saving procedure.

Traditional classroom settings can be best for CPR training.
Traditional classroom settings can be best for CPR training.

CPR courses are offered by a variety of sources. In the United states, two of the most common agencies that provide CPR instruction are the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association also provides emergency cardiovascular care (ECC) internationally.

One agency that provides CPR instruction is the Red Cross.
One agency that provides CPR instruction is the Red Cross.

Online CPR courses can be very convenient. Content may be presented through video clips, text, graphics, or a combination of these. Those choosing these types of CPR courses should ensure that the content encompasses all of the necessary skills, such as opening the airway, performing rescue breathing, assessing pulse, the appropriate method for chest compressions, and CPR for infants and children.

CPR courses are generally more effective when taken in a traditional classroom setting, rather than online. It can be beneficial to have a teacher available to answer questions and clarify content. While online courses can provide instruction about the basic concepts, they cannot provide the practical portion of the training. This allows participants to practice techniques and safety, and to become more comfortable with the procedures.

Some CPR courses are offered as a combination of online and in-person classes. This can be very convenient for those too busy to attend long instructional seminars. The online portion presents all of the necessary information regarding CPR procedures. The class segment provides the hands-on performance of the tasks on a specially-designed mannequin.

Despite the availability of courses, many bystanders are reluctant to perform CPR. The exact reason for this is unknown, but concerns about contracting diseases, the inability to remember procedures, or insufficient training may contribute to this reluctance. Agencies continue their efforts to provide good quality training, as well as encouragement for people to pursue instruction.

In CPR courses, participants will likely learn to evaluate the scene to determine whether it is safe to approach an apparent victim. Other important steps usually include checking the victim for responsiveness, and calling for emergency medical assistance. The participant will also likely learn how to assess the victim for breath sounds, an obstructed airway, and pulse.

To assess the airway of an unconscious victim, one must look for the rising and falling of the chest, listen for breath sounds, and feel for breath coming from the mouth or nose. The victim should be placed on his back with his head tilted slightly back. This position helps to shift the position of the tongue so that it is not obstructing the airway. If the injured party is not breathing, the rescuer may administer two full rescue breaths.

If the unresponsive person does not respond to rescue breathing, the rescuer should check for a pulse. The carotid arteries are located between the trachea and the muscles in either side of the neck. If there is no pulse at these points or elsewhere, chest compressions may begin.

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