Does having a CPR certification mean I'll perform CPR correctly every time?

No! In fact, most people who take an accredited CPR certification course forget over 80% of what they learned in the first two hours to two weeks following the training.

To explain this phenomenon in more detail, let's take a look at why this problem exists. First, a person learning CPR must absorb a large amount of information in one sitting, including tactile functions such as:

  1. Check for responsiveness
  2. Call EMS or 911
  3. Check for breathing
  4. Head tilt
  5. Chin lift
  6. Pinch nose shut
  7. Seal mask to mouth
  8. Clear obstructed airway
  9. Deliver two slow breaths, checking for chest rise and fall
  10. Give 30 chest compressions that are 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep
  11. Deliver shocks via AED

All these skills must be learned within an amount of time that far exceeds the normal attention span of the adult learner. It is not dysfunction, it is a normal outcome from training wrongly. You see, any time we create a learning environment that causes the person to have to "cram" information for retention in order to pass a test and get certified, we run the risk of short-term memory loss, which turns into long term memory loss, which turns into lack of confidence during a life threatening situation. This is one of the reasons why self-paced online learning is so effective when delivered the right way.

Now for the good news. If you forget the exact details of how to deliver CPR, that is okay! Calling 911 gives you a step-by-step tutorial right from the dispatcher's mouth. And even if you don't have someone who can remind you of what to do, any type of circulation of oxygenated blood does the same thing CPR is meant to do -- buy time.

CPR certification simply means that you took a formal CPR training and passed the written exam. On the day of the training, you were able to perform adequate CPR skills in order for the instructor to certify that you had comprehended the minimum requirements for certification. It is no guarantee that you will respond, it is no guarantee that you will remember how to do CPR, and it is not a license to perform any CPR at all. It simply means you met the instructor's required objectives in order to pass the class.

Online CPR certification companies like ProCPR.org believe that mastery of the core skills related to effective CPR comes from repetition and practice. That is why ProCPR.org sends weekly email video trainings in short 3-minute segments throughout the year. That is also why ProCPR.org wants the student to learn at their own pace in an environment that is conducive to learning.

Though CPR certification is not a guarantee that the person certified will perform CPR correctly, it does prove that they were trained and were able to perform CPR to the minimum requirements of the instructor that evaluated them. And it is our hope that ProCPR students will feel confident enough to perform CPR if they are ever called upon to do so.

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