If you’re looking into taking a CPR certification class, you have a variety of offerings to choose from. Taking a class in person can be a great option because you are exposed to the concepts through various teaching methods which can reinforce the key points of this important skill. You may be curious what to expect from a CPR certification class. How should I dress? How long is it? What will we be doing? What do I need to prepare?
Here’s an outline of a basic CPR certification course to give you an idea of what you might expect. Each class may be slightly different, depending on who is offering the course, but these basic elements would be included in some form during any class you take at a location across the US offering CPR certification training.
CPR classes are offered in a single day, which may seem like a short amount of time for what you’re learning, but these courses are quite comprehensive and detailed, offering you plenty of information, demonstration, and practice.
Having previously registered for your course through a local CPR training agency, your employer, or a public health institution, you should arrive a few minutes early at your scheduled course location so you can find a seat and collect all your practice materials and instruction manual.
After students have arrived and found a seat, the instructor will generally begin with information about the importance and usefulness of CPR. He may discuss the situations for which this skill can be useful, and illustrate the serious responsibility of being a first responder. Your instructor may even share personal experiences of when he was able to use CPR in the past to further demonstrate the value of being trained in this skill.
Each trainee is given a manual with step-by-step illustrations and text about the various steps of the rescue process. The instructor and trainees generally walk through the manual discussing each section, asking and answering questions as necessary to ensure that all trainees understand what they are reading and learning. The manual covers such things as the exact number of breaths and chest compressions, how to administer the technique, the procedures to carry out before beginning CPR, the process to follow when there is one rescuer vs. two rescuers, and how to use an AED. Variations between adults and child rescue procedures are covered as well.
Upon completion of reviewing the written instructions outlined in the manual regarding the rescue process, trainees then watch a series of short video clips demonstrating the rescue process in various situations. These videos can include demonstrations of CPR or the heimlich maneuver with a choking victim, a heart attack victim, or an accident victim. In addition to performing emergency rescue procedures on adults, the video clips may also illustrate rescue procedures on a child or infant in one of these emergency situations. What trainees watch in each video is simply a visual reinforcement of what was previously learned in the manual. In each scenario, there is an emphasis on three main steps: call for help, check the victim, and conduct CPR.
After learning about the rescue procedure steps in the manual, watching them performed in the video in several scenarios with different ages of victims, the next step in the CPR class is to practice what has been learned. Trainees at this point have the opportunity to use an adult, child, and in some cases, an infant mannequin provided by the instructor to see how well they have retained the information learned in the manual and the video. This is often considered one of the most valuable parts of the training, because students have the chance to receive real-time feedback from the instructor on their performance. For example, people are often surprised at how forceful they need to be with chest compressions and receiving encouraging feedback from an instructor can be a useful as they are practicing for the first time.
In addition to demonstrating proficiency with hands-on administering of CPR, trainees must pass a multiple choice written exam. Once all students have had an opportunity to practice on the mannequins, they return to their seats and the written exam is administered. Results are graded immediately by the instructor, and if the trainee receives a passing grade, she will receive a CPR certification card for her wallet immediately from the instructor. If the student answered too many questions incorrectly, the instructor will review their answers with them, explain anything the trainee didn’t understand, and give them a different version of the exam to retake. Depending on who is offering the course, students may receive three additional attempts to retake and pass the exam.
These are the basic pieces of a CPR course, but there may be other additional information covered such as liability concerns when performing CPR and how to re-certify. If a course isn’t offered in-person in your area, online certification courses are a great option as well. You can read more about online CPR courses here.