EMS Corner: CPR Training and Re Training

Following training in CPR, how long is the ability to perform effective CPR retained?

Although skill retention from any learned competency varies by individual, the Advisory Council of First Aid and Aquatics Safety and Preparedness (ACFASP) conducted a scientific review in 2009 of 40 different studies on CPR skill retention. Based on their review of these studies, the ACFASP concluded;

– The data indicated substantial CPR skill degradation within 10 weeks after training

– The majority of skills deterioration seemed to occur in the first year

– There was no published evidence indicating adequate retention of CPR skills at 2 years (the typical duration of CPR certifications)

– Several studies reported improved retention when a brief refresher is conducted every 6-12 months

The ACFASP cited numerous limitations associated with their Scientific Review, including  the lack of any study with actual patient outcomes. (All studies used a CPR manikin as a surrogate for human patients) An additional limitation was the lack of a standard to evaluate satisfactory or unsatisfactory skill performance.

Bottom line according to the ACFASP Review – The majority of studies reviewed indicated substantial skill degradation within the first year of training while several studies suggested improved retention associated with brief (30 minute) refresher training.

It is for this reason that, for those clients SCS provides FA/CPR training for, we advocate scheduling FA and CPR training on alternating years allowing for brief CPR skills refresher training during the First Aid training on years between re-certifying CPR training