Our guide to CPR training courses


Would you know what to do if you found someone going into cardiac arrest? Most people don’t. More than 90 per cent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. But if more people knew CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), thousands of lives would be saved. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their chance of survival by 10 per cent. So a CPR course is an extremely worthwhile undertaking.


What do you actually do on a CPR course?

All CPR courses consist of the practical and theoretical activities needed to effectively resuscitate people whose hearts have stopped. The majority of CPR courses are very practical, involving hands-on experience with life-like models of babies, children and adults.

CPR courses cover what happens to the body during cardiac arrest, how to recognise and deal with a heart attack, how to perform CPR, putting someone into the recovery position and how to use a defibrillator.

Many CPR courses will teach you how to use Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices. AEDs are portable electronic machines that can treat cardiac arrests using electrical therapy. They are simple to use and are becoming more common throughout public and work places. CPR courses can typically be completed in a single day, with some courses only lasting two or three hours.

You will normally be assessed during the course through practical observation and a multiple-choice questionnaire. On completion of the course, you should receive a First Aid certificate, which is valid for three years. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends that all students take a CPR Refresher course each year to bring you up to date on any changes to British Resuscitation Council protocols. It would be worthwhile choosing a course that is recognised by the Resuscitation Council.

There are not normally entry requirements. So all you need is a desire to help people in desperate need, although for those who hope to work as medical professionals, care workers, dentists or sports coaches this is a compulsory requirement of health and safety in the workplace.


A quick quiz on CPR

1. How should you check if a victim is responsive?

a) Shouting and shaking if the victim is a child

b) Patting the feet and chest if the victim is an infant

c) Shouting and shaking if the victim is an adult

d) All of the above


2. What should you do if the victim is unresponsive?

a) Dial 999 before starting CPR for adults

b) Start CPR before dialling 999 for infants

c) Start CPR before dialling 999 for children

d) All of the above


3. How do you check if the victim is breathing?

a) Listen for exhaled air

b) Feel for exhaled air

c) Look to see if the victim’s chest rises and falls

d) All of the above


4. What is the most common airway obstruction?

 a) False teeth

 b) Food

 c) The tongue

 d) None of the above


5. How do you clear the victim’s airway?

a) Lift up the chin and tilt the head back

b) Push the chin into the chest and tilt the head forward

c) Lift the chin up and turn the head sideways in case they vomit

d) None of the above


6. What should you NOT do when ventilating a victim?

 a) Pinch the victim's nose

 b) Overinflate the victim's lungs

 c) Push down on the victim’s chest so they exhale

 d) All of the above


7. Where do you check for the pulse?

a) Carotid artery in a child

b) Brachial artery in an infant

c) Carotid artery in an adult

d) All of the above


8. When giving compressions, what rule must you remember?

a) one hand, one inch for children

b) Half a hand, half an inch for infants

c) Two hands, two inches for adults

d) All of the above


(Answers: 1. d   2. d  3. d   4. c  5. a   6. d   7. d   8. d)


Did you know...?

·         The use of CPR dates back to 1740


·         A blocked airway can kill someone in less than four minutes. So just opening someone’s airway can save their life until an ambulance arrives


·         75% of all cardiac arrests happen at home


·         If CPR is started within 4 minutes of collapse and defibrillation provided within 10 minutes a person has a 40 per cent chance of survival


·         In sudden cardiac arrest the heart goes from a normal heartbeat to a quivering rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF is fatal unless an electric shock, called defibrillation, can be given


·         Cardiac arrest occurs twice as frequently in men compared with women


·         No case of HIV has ever been transmitted giving mouth-to-mouth


By Nick Kennedy

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