People who have been certified in CPR in the past may feel like their classes were a one-and-done deal but that is just not the case. Your CPR skills and knowledge fade over time if you don’t take refresher courses. If you neglect to stay up-to-date, you risk making mistakes that could further injure a person who is already in a precarious condition.

Refresher courses aren’t as long or as tedious as you may believe! They give you the knowledge that you need to brush up on your skills and the newest research without forcing you to go through every minute detail that was addressed the first time around. Let’s take a look at when you should take these CPR refresher courses, what is involved, and where you can go to hone your skills when you’ve become a little rusty.

When should you take a CPR refresher course?

The official answer is that you should take a refresher course every 12 months after your initial certification as your skillset degrades over time. It is the halfway point between your original certification and when you are required to renew so it’s a pretty good rule to follow.

Our recommendation is that you should probably take a refresher course a little bit sooner than that, and then again a few months after the 12-month mark has passed. Your memory deteriorates on CPR skills faster than you would believe. Being as sharp as possible ensures that you can save a life if the time comes, no matter when you got your original CPR certification.

What material do you go over in a CPR refresher course?

In a typical basic CPR refresher course, you go over the materials that you learned the first time at your own pace, skipping the parts that you have already learned. The curriculum from your basic CPR course goes over several different techniques and facts that you need to know.

Introductory CPR Training

The first section of the course goes over the five fears of CPR rescue. You probably remember what these are already:

  • Fear of hurting the victim. Many people are reluctant to perform CPR on another person because they are afraid of hurting them further. This is a valid fear; in some cases, CPR can break a person’s ribs but this is a common occurrence and it’s a part of the lifesaving process. The person would prefer to be alive with a few broken bones than not breathing. Consider that.
  • Fear of being sued. While this is a completely valid fear – some people do look to take financial advantage of others in any situation – there are laws in most states that protect you from being sued if you were taking appropriate steps to help a person in distress. These are called Good Samaritan laws. You have little to fear in that respect; putting your fears aside to truly help someone should be more common than it is.
  • Fear of catching a disease. It’s reasonable to be reluctant to perform rescue breaths on a person that needs CPR, especially if they are a stranger to you. You don’t know if they have any communicable diseases and no one wants to catch one of those nasty illnesses. The chances are low that it will happen to you but there is a chance nonetheless. Did you know that it isn’t necessary to perform rescue breaths to do effective CPR? Use the hands-only method to save someone and diminish your fear of getting sick.
  • Fear of performing CPR incorrectly. Some people are afraid that they will perform CPR improperly and not be able to truly help. Hands-only CPR can also lessen these fears as it is less complicated than CPR done with rescue breaths.
  • Fear of the unsafe scene. Are there downed powerlines nearby? Is the victim in standing water? Is there a real danger that you would become a victim yourself by entering the scene? If any of these are true, you should know what you’re doing before you attempt a rescue. If there are powerlines nearby, you might be better suited waiting for people with the proper equipment to arrive, however difficult that may be. There may be situations where you can get the victim to a safer place to perform CPR, and if you can recognize that, by all means, do so. What the other rescuers coming to the scene, or at the scene, don’t need is another victim to save at that moment, so if you’re okay and the scene isn’t safe for you to do so, don’t enter it.

Recently this sixth fear started to make headlines as a study was released, so we’re adding this here.

  • Fear of inappropriate touching. Women are less likely to receive CPR from a bystander because men are afraid to touch a woman’s chest during the process. This fear leads to more women dying. It’s a taboo that legitimately kills women so it is better to get past this reluctance because when you don’t, the consequences are deadly.

Medical Emergencies

In this section of the course, you learn how to effectively respond and provide aid to someone when they have a heart attack or stroke or when they go into shock. Since this lesson has several different parts, you should study it again during your refresher course.

Cardiac Arrest Training

This portion of your refresher course helps you relearn how to perform CPR and how to use an AED to save someone who is suffering from cardiac arrest. There are a lot of steps so you should always study and repeat them until you can remember without needing a reference.


Your refresher course should also cover how to respond and provide aid when a person is choking. It also covers conscious choking and unconscious choking. To memorize the differences between the two approaches, you need to go back over this part of the lesson.

Bloodborne Pathogens

Being exposed to bloodborne pathogens can prove fatal so this is something that you should always go back and study when you take your CPR refresher course. This section of your training tells you how to minimize your risk and practice good hygiene.

Where can you take a CPR refresher course?

Because it is so vital to periodically update your skills and knowledge of CPR, you need to know where to go to do it. Fortunately, the answer is right here! ProCPR courses from ProTrainings offer refresher courses for those who are already certified. If you need a refresher on CPR skills and knowledge, look no further. Take the ProCPR refresher courses and continue to be the hero that someone needs!

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