Teaching CPR isn’t just about teaching proper compressions and rescue breathing.
I firmly believe that when we teach someone how to perform CPR, we actively make our community a safer place to live. We empower more people to serve as first-line rescuers and train them to do so with bravery and confidence.
As a paramedic, I’ve had the honor of using my training to give people a second chance at life. But, I’ve also carried the emotional burden of watching someone’s loved one slip away when CPR or ACLS aren’t enough. Performing CPR is physically and emotionally exhausting, and the adrenaline of the situation sticks with you long after you’ve stopped.
This is why I know that being a CPR instructor is so much more than just teaching a curriculum and why I have dedicated my career to putting the heart back into CPR training.
I built ProTrainings on the belief that life matters. To me, that means a commitment to high-quality training to ensure that students leave feeling confident that they have the skills to save a life.
Whenever I’m teaching a class, I always start with addressing the reasons why some people are scared to perform CPR.
Teach to the Five Fears of Rescue
Over the years, I found that there were 5 basic fears that students had:
Many students have heard stories of individuals who were sued for injuring a person while administering CPR. It’s important to remind students that these stories are rarely if ever valid and that rescuers are covered by the Good Samaritan Law.
Unsure of Skills
I want my students to understand that CPR only slows down the progress from clinical death to biological death– but will not stop it by itself. We know any number combination of rescue breaths to compressions will help buy time for EMS to use an AED and ACLS to administer medications. The numbers are guidelines, not the rule. (This is part of the reason why Hands-Only CPR has become such a popular alternative to rescue breathing for those who have not been trained or who don’t feel confident to give full CPR.
Might Hurt or Kill Patient
This goes hand in hand with number two. If someone does not have a pulse and is not breathing, they are already clinically dead. How much worse can the patient physically become? Any attempt to resuscitate the victim cannot make their condition worse but may potentially make them better, even if damage to the ribs or sternum does occur.
This fear has been around for some time and can be solved by simply using personal protection. This can be accomplished by ordering a Key-Ring or other accessible CPR shield and protective gloves. That way, you’re always prepared for the worst of circumstances. Hands-Only CPR is better than nothing and may be a good alternative if you don’t have personal protective equipment or don’t feel comfortable giving rescue breaths.
The fear of an unsafe scene is absolutely valid. It’s important that students remember to protect themselves so they do not become yet another victim. Remind students that if they are going to enter an area to rescue someone, always check for hazards such as busy roads, electrical wires, or other factors that may have caused the initial victim’s cardiac arrest or could place the rescuer in danger.
Create Space for Hard Conversations
At the end of the day, performing CPR does not guarantee successful resuscitation. A fear even greater than the ones listed above is what happens when CPR doesn’t work.
It’s a hard conversation to have, but when approached with compassion, I think it’s a necessary part of CPR training. Unfortunately, statistics are not in our favor when performing CPR. It’s a hard truth that survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are very low.
Rescuers need to know that they gave the victim the best possible chance at surviving. That their willingness to jump in, their physical and emotional expenditure, and their compassion for that person in a terribly dark hour, was not in vain.
After all, we’ve built our training careers off of the hope for that small percentage of revivals, right?
It’s not in vain. What we do matters. What you do matters. Because… life matters.