By Joanne Ewen, Program Administrator and Certified CPR Instructor
People are often confused about CPR training and which level of training is appropriate for their needs. I am a Faculty Member of the Multi-Regional Training Center (MRTC) for the American Heart Association (AHA), so I’m offering a quick review of their main courses. Beside the AHA course names in parenthesis are the names of the American Red Cross (ARC) courses that are similar.
Note that renewals are every 2 years for all courses. Renewal courses require students to have a current card (not expired). Renewals cover the same material, but are completed more quickly.
HeartSaver CPR/AED (ARC does not use ‘Heartsaver’ in the name)
- This course is for the lay person who does not work in a healthcare setting, and it focuses on adults only. CPR is taught with emphasis on effective (hard and fast) compressions. Ventilation involves using a face shield (usually plastic face sheet for one-time use) rather than a face mask. Choking rescue for adults is also part of any CPR/AED course. AED training is the same for all ages and levels of training – turn it on first, then listen and follow instructions.
- Note on AED use: It’s very important in today’s market with a variety of AEDs available that people get used to turning on the AED first, then listening to the instructions – some systems require language choice first. Never plug the pads in before placing them on the patient. There’s nothing to analyze until the pads get placed!
HeartSaver First Aid (ARC does not use ‘Heartsaver’ in the name)
- Students learn skills such as how to treat bleeding, sprains, broken bones, shock and other first aid emergencies.
HeartSaver Pediatric First Aid and CPR/AED (ARC does not use ‘Heartsaver’ in the name)
- This course meets the regulatory requirements for childcare workers in the USA. They must be competent in child and infant choking rescue, and treating a number of emergencies such as bleeding and bandaging, allergic reactions, epinephrine pen use, asthma, drowning, bites and stings, and burns. This would be the appropriate course for any teacher of children or parents who wish to be able to handle their children’s injuries and emergencies.
Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (ARC: CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Healthcare Providers)
- All EMS personnel and medical personnel must maintain certification at the BLS level, even if they also need advanced life saving courses.
- The major additions in this course compared to HeartSaver is 2-rescuer CPR training, artificial ventilation with pocket mask and bag-valve mask, and infant CPR and choking rescue techniques.
There are other courses available that are not AHA or ARC. The problem is that they do not necessarily comply with the requirements of the NREMT and EMSRB, which require that the CPR certification must state ‘Healthcare Provider’ on the face of the certificate in order to be acceptable.
In conclusion, when choosing a training center for your CPR courses, be sure to ask if there will be hands-on training with a CPR manikin and appropriate ventilation equipment. There are many programs that show a video and never offer the required skills training. Yes, I’ve had EMT students who took such courses! So be careful when choosing an inexpensive course – you might get just what you paid for. Online-only CPR and ACLS courses with no hands-on skill testing component are not legitimate!