Fire drills, tornado drills, earthquake drills and even active shooter drills… Today every workplace has emergency procedures in place for when disaster strikes. Just as we practice for those worst case scenarios, we should be prepping our first responders with drills for medical emergencies that extend far beyond our instructor led training. We are more likely to encounter a heart attack or stroke at work then we are to face a fire while doing our jobs – so why not practice these skills too?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), students show a significant decline in both knowledge and skills right after their initial training. Because of this, AHA recommends running high frequency practice sessions between your training classes in an effort to improve retention. Having your first responders “try on” their skills in regular intervals has been found to increase their recall of the information taught and improve the outcomes when they are called upon to deliver CPR and use an AED in a real situation.
As trainers, we see the difference in organizations who run regular drills and those who do not. Onsite drills also help your team work out any kinks in your process. In running a drill you will answer questions like “how long until we get an AED on the scene” or “how do we get EMS to the back far corner of our building quickly?” That said, there are a lot of factors that play into how you run a drill at your facility like building or campus logistics, the ability to break production, or even support from upper management.
If we haven’t convinced you yet or you need a little help overcoming some hurdles – here are 7 more reasons to run drills at your organization:
7. Team Building: Your first responders will feel more connected to each other as a team and have a better understanding of the team work needed to smoothly handle an emergency situation.
6. Improved Confidence: Feeling and acting like a leader go hand-in-hand. Practicing taking control in an often hectic and stressful environment helps the rescuer exude that confidence when assisting in the real world.
5. Internal Visibility: Stepping up as a first responder gives your team visibility and positions them as a conscientious employee with leadership. Because drills happen out in the workplace and not behind the doors of the classroom, they take it one step further and demonstrate to the organization how important the first responders are.
4. Better Retention: Many adults are kinetic learners – this means they need to physically do things on their own to really grasp the information. Practicing for a workplace emergency allows people with this learning style to improve their performance.
3. New Material Review: As you know we are anticipating new standards this fall in CPR and AED training. Organizing a drill around this time provides a chance to inform your team about the new information driving the standards.
2. Realistic Environment: In a drill you get to test your emergency procedures in a way that you could never do in the classroom or the boardroom.
1. Improved Outcomes: All the research points to drills not only helping your first responders remember their skills – but it actually equates to a higher survival rate when CPR and/or AED skills are used. This is the most important reason to run a drill.
Remember- the more your team uses their skills – the better they are at delivering high quality CPR and first aid when responding to an emergency at your company. As the age old adage goes, “practice makes perfect.”
 Sutton, R. M., Nadkarni, V., & Abella, B. S. (2012). “Putting It All Together” to Improve Resuscitation Quality. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America,30(1), 105–122. doi:10.1016/j.emc.2011.09.001
 Sutton, R. M., Niles, D., Meaney, P. A., Aplenc, R., French, B., Abella, B. S., … Nadkarni, V. (2011). Low-Dose, High-Frequency CPR Training Improves Skill Retention of In-Hospital Pediatric Providers. Pediatrics, 128(1), e145–e151. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2105