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Workplace Solutions

First aid

How can I make CPR training more engaging for my employees to help them remember what they’ve learned?

July 28, 2014

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Responding is Steve Barnett, vice president, sales operations, Health & Safety Institute, Grand Rapids, MI.

Taking a CPR training class every two years can get a little boring for students who are required to maintain their certification. It’s also hard to remember skills over a 24-month period.

Engaging your students on more than just the cognitive level can make for memorable training. Incorporating concepts such as competitions, group problem solving and rewards can turn learning a serious topic into a fun training session. You may not remember the main topics from your last corporate meeting, but you can probably recall the ice-breaker game your presenter used to start the session.

Game-based CPR training systems are available that can help capture attention and keep employees focused in your classroom, and those same systems are good refresher tools to use in off-certification years. Interactive games that ask us to step outside our comfort zone and mix it up with the other people in the room are what sticks in our minds, and tying the fun to important skills such as compressions and rescue breaths is no different.

Changing the course delivery method can also help spark new interest. If you have always taught in a traditional classroom format, trying a blended learning approach may re-engage your “been there, done that” employees. Students complete their course content online, stopping and starting the session at their convenience, and reviewing any new or unclear concepts as they wish by simply going back to that section in the course. Once the online portion is complete, students take a skills session with the instructor to verify that they can perform all the required emergency care skills correctly.

The course book used in the training remains available as a searchable PDF during the remainder of the certification period, for fast reference and skill reminders as time goes by between required training sessions.

Don’t forget that, to meet your certification requirements, you must include a hands-on skills session after the online course content portion is completed. No major nationally recognized training program in the United States endorses certification without practice and evaluation of hands-on skills. According to OSHA, online training alone does not meet its first aid and CPR training requirements. In addition to compliance concerns, your students won’t learn the muscle memory or experience the confidence-building that comes when you actually practice CPR.

Sudden cardiac arrest scenario drills, given at a six-month interval after initial training, are a dramatic way to make emergency care training real and relevant. Bringing together your first responder team and running through a start-to-finish emergency scenario adds that touch of realism and urgency to what could otherwise be seen as simply a regulatory requirement.

With these types of learning aids and concepts, an emergency care instructor or safety professional has a toolkit of resources to bring something a little new to their trainees. Whatever we as instructors can do to make skills easy and memorable will go a long way toward building the confidence needed to respond in a real emergency, and ultimately, that’s what it’s really all about.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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