Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are essential life-saving measures used when someone suffers cardiac arrest. CPR involves compressing the chest rapidly to pump blood around the body and prevent brain damage until medical assistance arrives, while an AED delivers electrical shocks to restore normal heart rhythm. Both techniques require specialized training to execute effectively and safely. In this article, we will provide comprehensive information about CPR and AED courses offered in the United Kingdom, including their benefits, eligibility criteria, cost, duration, delivery modes, certification, renewal policies, and practical scenarios.
Benefits of CPR and AED Courses
The British Heart Foundation estimates that over 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside hospitals annually, making immediate action crucial. Learning CPR and using AEDs increases survival rates significantly, particularly within the first few minutes before emergency responders arrive. According to the Resuscitation Council (UK), performing high-quality CPR and administering early defibrillation could raise chances of survival by approximately 75%. Moreover, being trained in CPR allows individuals to assist family members, friends, colleagues, or strangers experiencing sudden cardiac events. It instills confidence, reduces anxiety levels, and empowers them to make informed decisions during emergencies. As per St John Ambulance, the leading provider of CPR courses in the UK, learning CPR also promotes physical fitness, cognitive development, teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
Generally, there are no age limitations for enrolling in CPR and AED courses; however, participants under 16 years old may need parental consent or supervision based on the venue’s policy. Some organizations may impose prerequisites such as prior basic life support (BLS) certifications, healthcare qualifications, or job positions requiring CPR competency, such as lifeguards, security personnel, firefighters, ambulance crews, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dentists, paramedics, midwives, pharmacists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, optometrists, and sports trainers. However, many providers welcome beginners without any previous knowledge or background.
Cost and Duration
The fees charged for CPR and AED courses vary considerably across different locations, providers, settings, and programs. They range from £20 to £400 per person, inclusive or exclusive of materials, certificates, refreshments, registration, administration, insurance, taxes, and charitable donations. The price depends on several factors, such as the level of instruction, group size, duration, frequency, location, accreditation, reputation, convenience, and expertise of the instructors. Shorter sessions generally cost less, but they cover only the basics, whereas longer ones may involve more advanced modules, scenarios, and simulations, resulting in higher expenses. Most training centers conduct evening, weekend, or weekday schedules lasting anywhere from 1-12 hours, typically divided into theoretical lectures and practical exercises. The latter includes demonstrations, practice sessions, debriefings, assessments, feedback, and quizzes.
There are various ways to acquire CPR and AED skills, catering to diverse needs and preferences, such as face-to-face classroom-based programs, virtual webinar courses, blended learning packages combining digital and traditional methods, bespoke in-house coaching for corporate clients, mobile training units visiting local venues, and outdoor field exercises in natural environments. Virtual learning offers flexibility, accessibility, and affordability because it eliminates commuting, parking, and accommodation costs, allowing learners to participate remotely from any device connected to the internet. Nevertheless, it lacks hands-on practice, real-life interactions, and personalized feedback compared to conventional settings, where trainees can engage in realistic drills, discuss pertinent issues, and collaborate with peers. Face-to-face teaching enables greater immersion, collaboration, engagement, and interaction, providing a more holistic and satisfying educational journey.
Practical Scenarios Related to CPR and AED Usage:
CPR and AED use in real-world situations requires quick thinking, decisiveness, and technical abilities. Here are some examples:
- Collapsed Patient: If someone suddenly collapses, shout for help immediately and check if breathing and pulse are present. Begin chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute, pressing hard enough to move the chest up and down by about one-third. Perform rescue breaths every 30 compressions, watching out for foreign objects obstructing the airway. Continue CPR until either signs of consciousness return or EMS arrives.
- Unresponsive Child: If a child becomes unresponsive, follow similar procedures but apply gentler pressure due to lighter chests. Use a ratio of 15 compressions to two breaths instead of 30 to 2. Check the child’s mouth frequently for vomit or obstructions.
- Choking Victim: When somebody starts choking, ask them whether they can speak or breathe. If not, perform abdominal thrusts by placing your fists above the belly button, grasping tightly, and pulling sharply upward and inwards repeatedly until the object dislodges or coughing occurs. Repeat as necessary.
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest: During sudden cardiac arrest, call EMS promptly and commence CPR, starting with chest compressions alone since defibrillators cannot analyze heart rhythms accurately when the heart has stopped beating. Apply the pads to the bare chest, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Press the shock button once the machine recommends doing so, then resume CPR for another couple of minutes before checking again.
Employer Responsibilities Regarding Staff Certification:
As an employer, you have legal and moral obligations towards your employees’ health and safety, which includes ensuring that sufficient numbers of your workforce possess current CPR and AED credentials. Here’s what you should do:
- Identify who needs the training based on occupational risks, duties, locations, and circumstances.
- Research credible CPR and AED course providers in your area, preferably those approved by regulatory bodies like the Resuscitation Council (UK).
- Contact the chosen organization(s) and negotiate favorable terms regarding the number of trainees, date(s), time(s), location(s), mode(s), fee(s), cancellation/rescheduling policies, and other relevant details.
- Communicate clearly and comprehensively with all selected recipients about the upcoming session’s purpose, logistics, expectations, and consequences. Encourage participation and offer incentives whenever possible.
- Provide ongoing support and resources post-training, such as regular refresher courses, annual re-certifications, updates, equipment maintenance, signage placement, emergency response plans, and crisis management strategies.
In conclusion, CPR and AED courses equip individuals with fundamental life-saving skills, empowering them to act quickly and confidently during cardiovascular incidents. Employers play a significant role in promoting workplace wellbeing by facilitating staff certification through reputable vendors. By adopting proactive measures, businesses can mitigate risks, minimize damages, enhance reputations, and foster a culture of responsibility, care, and preparedness.