So, you have a CPR certification. That means you likely took online or in-person CPR training that explained how to tilt a person’s head to administer breaths, how to perform chest compressions and the ratio of breaths to compressions. 

But, did your CPR class talk about what to do when you don’t remember the steps to take or what may happen if the person doesn’t revive? Yes, these things happen and, yes, your CPR class should have addressed them. 

Let’s look at some topics all-too-often left out of some CPR training—topics that everyone CPR certified should know about:

Refresher training

A standard CPR certification extends for a full two years. That’s a long time, especially when you don’t use those skills regularly. You can’t expect to remember every detail 6, 12 or 18 months after your course. The best CPR class includes access to mini-refresher courses or information so you can avoid the learning loss that may prevent you from feeling confident to act when the need arrives. 

Patient size

When performing chest compressions, you need to press hard enough to restart a person’s heart. The force with which you need to press may increase with a person’s size. If you’re 5’2” and the person who needs CPR looks like they could have been an NBA or NFL player, you might want to consider recruiting a bystander to press while you guide them along. 

CPR may not work

Even when you do everything by the book, a person may not survive. This can be one of the hardest facts to deal with but is an important one for anyone with a CPR certification to embrace. You must never think that you failed. The mere fact that you administered CPR remains a success because you gave the person the chance to survive

Crunching and popping sounds

These sounds commonly occur during chest compressions and often sound more serious than they really are. When the cartilage separates from the sternum, air is released much like what happens when you crack your knuckles. In some situations, ribs may be broken but that is honestly a small price to pay for giving a person a second chance at life and should not stop you from working to restart the heart.

The fears of rescue

Yes, CPR can be scary. When you see a person in cardiac arrest, fear can set in fast. This may include the fear of being sued, the fear of doing something wrong or more. This is normal, yet too many CPR training courses do not discuss it. This leaves the door open for you to be paralyzed by your fears instead of able to act despite them.

These topics represent some of the lesser-known realities of performing CPR. Emergencies rarely present in neat, tidy situations making it important for you to get training that goes beyond the mechanics of compressions and breaths. When the time comes for you to recertify your CPR credentials, make sure to look for a training course that offers this.

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