I have often heard it said that being certified in CPR is like having fire insurance. You really hope you never need to use it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it. Every 5 years the American Heart Association (AHA) makes changes to their CPR guidelines in an effort to continuously improve the quality of care in the CPR community. On an on-going basis, the AHA works to collect and analyze data from EMS and hospital calls in order to continuously improve pre-hospital care, which will in turn increase the odds of patient survival. In 2016 the AHA updated their CPR guidelines for their instructors.
So how does this impact you?
An American Heart Association CPR certification is valid for two years. Although the guidelines have changed, your card and certification will remain current for the remainder of your certification period. Starting in early 2016, any refresher training you complete will be under the new 2016 guidelines.
A comprehensive list of protocol changes will be reviewed with you by your CPR instructor at your next renewal. At your next AHA renewal you can expect to see an emphasis on the process for initializing CPR and minimizing the delays in treatment. Listed below is an example of the old guidelines vs. the new guidelines:
Old Guidelines (initial steps in your assessment were laid out in a step-by-step format):
- Check for responsiveness;
- Assess breathing;
- Have someone call 911 and get an AED;
- Check for a pulse (no more than 10 seconds);
- Begin CPR
New Guidelines (the focus is on completing tasks simultaneously):
- Call for help while checking for a pulse and adequate breathing;
- Use an AED as soon as its available;
- Immediately activate the Emergency Response System (chances are that someone in your office will have a phone readily available as opposed to someone having to ‘run’ to call 911)
Another change in 2016 is the implementation of a ceiling for the rate at which chest compressions are administered. Under the old guidelines, chest compressions were given at a rate of at least 100 per minute (my students should have the song ‘Stayin Alive’ stuck in their head as a tool to help keep tempo!). One drawback to requiring only a minimum number of compressions per minute is that often times rescuers tend to sacrifice quality for quantity. The AHA now recommends a rate of between 100-120 compressions per minute. A compression rate of over 120 per minute often results in incomplete chest recoil, compromising the venous return.
Although not a guideline, many training centers are now able to offer E-learning to their students. E-learning is a new tool that allows students to complete the classroom portion of their CPR certification as well as take the written test on their own time. Once that is completed, an instructor is still needed for practical skill demonstration and skill testing. If you have scheduling conflicts that make gathering your entire staff for a CPR class difficult, this new tool may be beneficial to utilize. You should contact your AHA CPR instructor to find out if they have this option available.
There are a number of reasons we get certified in CPR, whether it is part of your job or perhaps you want to have the training in the unfortunate event you may need to utilize the skills in your day to day life. So go to your files, wallet, purse, kitchen drawer or anywhere you may keep that card and check its expiration date. If it’s getting close to two years ALREADY, get a hold of your CPR instructor. Staying current on your refresher training is vital. Vital that in the unfortunate event an emergency happens near you, you can feel confident in your skills to help if needed, and possibly save a life.