So, you want to become CPR Certified? Then, welcome to the Non-Mumbo-Jumbo All You Could Ever Need Guide to Choose Which CPR Certification is Right for You!
We’ve all heard “The wand chooses the wizard”, but in this case, the wizard chooses the CPR certification! Well, I suppose if you’re a wizard you could just *abracadabra* them back to life, but I digress…
So for the rest of us muggles without magic resuscitative powers;
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is the non-convoluted art of maintaining oxygenated blood circulation to the brain and other vital organs whilst awaiting for further (usually more advanced) care to arrive through a systemized process of performing high-quality chest compressions and delivering adequate rescue breaths with the early use of an AED. All credentialing CPR organizations comply with the 2015 Emergency Cardiovascular Care Guidelines which typically change about every five years.
Great! So we know what it is… but so do 5,000+ other website pages which you’ve probably stumbled upon through hopeless Googling. You might have come across brands like the American Heart Association, ASHI, the Red Cross, Online CPR, etc.
But which one do YOU need?
Don’t panic! You’ve hit land!
The answer isn’t quite as simple as it seems, as it is contingent upon various factors which I’ll briefly get into.
But first, I must ask you a question.
Are you a healthcare provider, or were you told by your place of business to receive “BLS Certification” or “CPR for Professional Rescuers / Healthcare Providers”? This may include nurses, respiratory therapists, EMS Providers, first responders, dental hygienists, or any occupation where you render (or assist in rendering) care to patients. If so, congratulations!: You need Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification!
Are you a non-medical professional or lay rescuer such as a student, teacher, family member, or babysitter? Does the term “ventricular fibrillation” make you confused? If so, you most likely need “CPR & AED” Certification!
But wait! There’s more….
We now know what you need, BLS, or lay rescuer CPR – but which brand is right for you?
First and foremost: 100% Online CPR certifications are most likely not accepted in any working industry or by any Departments of Health.
Would you trust someone who learned their skills online to save your life? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to live to see another day of The Office, I’m only on season five. Regardless, it is always best to receive hands-on training by a qualified and registered instructor through an accredited organization.
You usually have three common choices to choose from:
- Heartsaver CPR & AED (AHA)
- ASHI CPR & AED
- Red Cross Standard CPR & AED
As both an American Heart Association (AHA) Instructor and American Safety & Health Institute (ASHI) Training Center Director, I can attest that all of these classes are equally accepted as appropriate for meeting lay rescuer CPR and AED requirements. The only difference is the way in which these courses are conducted. The Red Cross and AHA classes are multimedia based. Meaning, you will be required to watch a series of videos and/or slideshow presentations, then “practice your skills while watching”.
ASHI courses are usually instructor driven, and provide more of a “hands-on” interactive approach. As an added plus, ASHI courses are most commonly cheaper when compared to any other credentialing organization without sacrificing the quality of the course content.
Bottom line: If you are a non-healthcare professional, it is recommended you go with ASHI CPR & AED!
The most common BLS course offerings goes as follows:
- BLS for Healthcare Providers (AHA)
- BLS for Healthcare Providers & Professional Rescuers (ASHI)
- CPR – Professional Rescuer Level (Red Cross)
Candidly, American Red Cross courses tend to be on the more expensive side than any other provider organizations. With that, my top two recommendations are both ASHI and AHA BLS.
This does come with a catch, however.
If you work in a facility or hospital – almost ALWAYS will they ONLY accept BLS certification from the American Heart Association. In speaking with many university hospitals HR representatives, they are very anal about this standardized universally shared AHA policy, as the American Heart Association is reputationally superior to all other brands.
On the flip side, if you work outside of a hospital, ASHI BLS is highly preferred. Majority of CPR Training Centers offer ASHI BLS for a less expensive price than AHA.
If we think about this in terms of coffee, (stay with me), AHA is to Starbucks as ASHI is to Dunkin Donuts. Yes, they both serve great coffee, but majority of Americans prefer one brand over another simply because it’s the popular opinion. You’ll still get the buzz you need, but your friends (aka HR) will be much happier if you bring back Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. Added plus if you bring back a Salted Caramel Cake Pop. Wave one of those bad boys under any cardiac arrest victim and they’ll be sure to gain back pulses. (Disclaimer: The previous statement was not factual and should not be considered as legitimate medical advice. Please consult your doctor or local trained Starbucks barista for more information.)
Additionally, whilst the AHA focuses on the standardization of course conduction through various videos and simulations – ASHI Instructors, for the most part, are permitted to fully customize their class (for better or worse), so long as they are consistent with the curriculum. This is a great alternative for EMS providers and other first responders, and is also accepted by the NREMT and US Coast Guard. It is my personal opinion that ASHI courses are generally more engaging and fun when contrasted to the AHA or Red Cross.
But no, sorry. ASHI certification does not come with free donuts. I already asked.
Secret Tip: It may be helpful to call the Health & Safety Institute (HSI) and ask if your particular industry accepts ASHI BLS certification. They have a large database which they can easily reference to, and they would be more than happy to help you out.
More information regarding ASHI programs can be found at www.hsi.com/ashi
Bottom line: When in doubt, go for the American Heart Association BLS! This is guaranteed to be accepted more than any other brand. If your employer has no preference, go with ASHI!
Upon successful completion of either of the aforementioned programs, you’ll receive either a digital or print card (via email or snail mail). To our wizard audience, unfortunately at this time certification cards cannot be delivered via owl, however, I’m sure they’re working on it. Some training centers have the luxury of offering “Same Day Certification”, so it’s best to check ahead of time with your instructor to find out their card processing policies.
So, now you’re ready to get started! Register for a class online, and don’t forget to grab your instructor a Salted Caramel Cake Pop on the way there. Although not required, it is deeply appreciated.
Thank you for your desire to learn how to save a life, and as the greatest teacher of all taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility!”