Online CPR Certification Doesn’t Meet the Mark
Buyer Beware: Online CPR certification classes that are taught 100% online without any in-person, hands-on practice or skills checks, do not meet OSHA and other regulatory requirements for CPR and First Aid training and certification, are not accepted by many employers, are often found to be fraudulent, and perhaps most importantly, do not provide the high-quality training that is proven to be effective for learning, retaining, and performing lifesaving CPR and first aid skills. None of the major nationally recognized training institutions, such as American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or American Safety and Health Institute, endorse CPR and First Aid certification courses that do not include practice or evaluation of hands-on skills.
Only High Quality CPR Saves Lives
For most people that don’t work in an a healthcare setting treating high-acuity ill or injured patients, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will likely only be a once-in-a-lifetime event, if at all. Because it is something that may only be done once, it is essential that it is done correctly. There is little to no room for error if a victim of cardiac arrest is going to survive neurologically intact.
What is Cardiac Arrest?
In simple terms, cardiac arrest means the heart is not beating/pumping. This can occur due to electrical disturbances in the heart muscle which can cause arrhythmias/abnormal rhythms, blood loss, lack of oxygen, hypothermia, conditions that obstruct the flow of blood out of the heart (such as a blood clot in the vessels that transport blood from the heart to the lungs), or many other reasons. However, regardless of the cause, CPR is the most basic and critical thing needed when cardiac arrest occurs.
Cardiac Chain of Survival
Studies show that the most important things that need to be done when someone has a cardiac arrest are early recognition, early high quality CPR with limited interruption, and early defibrillation (shock to the heart with a manual or automated external defibrillator / AED). The American Heart Association calls this the Cardiac Chain of Survival. The chain of survival also includes more expansive measures that advanced providers may perform if a normal heartbeat is not restored prior to their arrival.
For laypersons, once confirming that the environment they are in is safe, recognition of cardiac arrest should be quick and efficient, and includes confirming that a victim is unresponsive (makes no sounds or movements when you tap on them and ask if they are okay) and confirming the absence of normal breathing for 5-10 seconds. Abnormal gasping is a common occurrence during the first few minutes of cardiac arrest and should not be confused with normal breathing.
If there is no evidence of normal breathing, a victim needs high quality CPR as soon as possible if they are going to survive. CPR is essential as it is used to restore blood flow and nutrient delivery to the brain and heart muscle, as well as the rest of the vital organs, to keep them alive and viable. For every minute that goes by when someone is in cardiac arrest, the chance of their survival drops by approximately 10% if no CPR is received.
The performance of high quality CPR with limited interruption is critically important to a cardiac arrest victim’s survival. There is a direct correlation between how many chest compressions someone receives when they are in cardiac arrest and survival rates. More high quality chest compressions have proven time and time again to increase survival rates. Conversely, when chest compressions are inadequate or accompanied by extensive pauses, survival rates are much lower. To put it simply, good chest compressions save lives.
Chest compressions and breaths provided early and done well allow the body to receive vital blood and oxygen in the absence of a heartbeat and breathing. Some studies also show that adult victims may have similar outcomes if they receive continuous chest compressions during cardiac arrest, as compared to chest compressions and breaths, for the first few minutes of their cardiac arrest while waiting for emergency responders to arrive. If someone is concerned about providing breaths to a cardiac arrest victim without a barrier device, that should not be the limiting factor for whether or not someone receives CPR. When in doubt, push hard and fast in the center of the chest and don’t stop until the victim begins to breathe or advanced help arrives.
What is “High Quality” CPR Training?
The CPR training that someone receives must adequately provide them with the essential skills they will need to properly perform this important, lifesaving procedure when it matters the most. There are many factors that affect the quality of training. These may include things such as: instructor knowledge and ability to adapt to the needs of the class; identification of weak points in student’s skills and abilities; the use of current, evidence-based training materials; modern training equipment that can simulate the feel of a victim and validate proper compressions (such as CPR manikins with feedback devices); and hands-on practice with repetition to reinforce skills (i.e. “muscle memory”) and feedback from a qualified instructor to correct technique.
Online CPR Certification Classes are Likely a Scam
The widespread ability of the internet to share information has created a market for people or companies to create online CPR certificaton classes that they purport to be similar to those of trusted organizations such as the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. The intention of sites that post these online CPR classes is to make money and provide the end consumer with a CPR certification as proof of completion and a sense of security (which is almost certainly a false one at best). You pay money, they give you a certification; everyone wins… right? Not quite. These classes can be purchased for a low price, completed hastily, and consumers can often obtain a certificaiton even though they’ve paid little attention to the material because the exams can be taken as many times as possible to pass. As a result, they will receive a low-quality, online CPR certification that is not endorsed by any of the trusted training organizations. But at what cost?
Without hands-on skills training and evaluation by a trained instructor, how good can online CPR training really be? If someone simply clicks through an online module without actually practicing the skills that they would during an in-person class, how can they really know that what they have learned is sufficient when they need it?
Imagine reading a recipe once, then needing to cook that meal from memory a year later without ever practicing in real life. Except instead of liking the meal or not, the end result could be the difference between life and death. Now imagine taking an in-person class to make that same meal. An instructor describes all of the necessary ingredients, walks through their preparation step-by-step, helps put it all together, and gives feedback while you practice preparing it. Do you think there would be a difference in the outcome?
Would you want your paramedics, nurses, or doctors taking an online CPR class? They have all of the equipment in the world to save somebody and your answer would surely be “no”. The vast majority of cardiac arrest situations occur in the home, at least several minutes away from medical care arriving (even within the best EMS networks). The reality is that the people who call 9-1-1 when they witness an emergency are the real first responders, and they better perform high quality CPR in order to save lives.
High Quality CPR and First Aid Training Really Matters
Time is of the essence – brain death begins to take place after approximately 4-6 minutes after the heart stops beating if no (or inadequate) CPR is received. Even in the best 9-1-1 systems, the average response time for first responders to the scene of an incident is still approximately 5-10 minutes from the time a call is received and these precious minutes prior to their arrival will make the difference in whether or not a victim is going to survive with good quality of life. Without high quality CPR, this is very unlikely. So why take a chance in the most high risk situation possible? Why not invest a little bit of time and sweat, and take an in-person class with a trained, seasoned instructor who has dealt with these situations in real life? Cardiac arrest management is high risk, high reward.
Opt for In-Person (Traditional Classroom) or “Blended Learning” CPR First Aid Classes
Don’t let your friends, family members, clients, colleagues, or neighbors die because you wanted to take a shortcut to save money or get a fast and easy class. Even if you only perform CPR once in your life, don’t you want to do it correctly? Don’t you want to know that you did everything you could to help someone who needed it the most? Please avoid online cpr certification classes. Take the time to learn CPR from a professional with good equipment and the knowledge to support your training. Take a class with Vive CPR. We provide first class training for when seconds matter. The people you help will thank us later.
For the best learning experience, we suggest taking a course in our classroom with an experienced instructor. If you have scheduling limitations or need more flexibility, we also offer the “Blended Learning” class format. “Blended Learning” combines an American Heart Association online course with an in-person “Skills Session” (the student must complete both parts in succession to pass the course). During a “Skills Session”, the student meets in-person with an AHA instructor and must physically demonstrate the skills they learned during the online course. The instructor evaluates the skills and provides feedback to the student, along with additional instruction as needed. Therefore, the “Blended Learning” class format offers an opportunity to practice CPR and First Aid skills, to ensure you are performing them correctly on a life-size manikin, and to create important muscle memory. “Blended Learning” is considered to have a hands-on practice and testing component, and is accepted by major training institutions such as the American Heart Association, regulatory agencies like OSHA, and employers.
When shopping for CPR certification classes, you should avoid:
- Courses that are completed 100% online
- Online CPR certification classes without any in-person or hands-on skills testing
- Instant online CPR certification
- Online CPR classes that allow you to download your certification card immediately upon finishing the course
- Certifications that are not issued directly from the major training institutions such as AHA, ARC, or ASHI
- Orgnaizations that offer a full refund if your certification card is not accepted
- They know they are offering a fake certification and will try to appease you with a refund
- Buzz words like “nationally validated”, “nationally recognized”, “AHA certified”, “AHA approved”, AHA compliant”, “AHA accredited”, “follows AHA guidelines”
- There is no national accrediting body for CPR training. Authentic AHA CPR certification training sites are known as “Authorized Training Sites”, “Aligned Training Sites”, or “Authorized Training Centers”. You can always find a valid AHA Training Site/Center on the AHA Class Connector page.
About Vive CPR
Vive CPR is an American Heart Association Authorized Training Site, offering AHA CPR and First Aid certification classes for individuals and businesses of all types in the San Francisco Bay Area, either in our classroom or at your home or office location. We also offer ACLS, BLS, Bloodborne Pathogens, Infant CPR for Parents, and more! Visit www.vivecpr.com for additional information.
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