Improving CPR Classes: AHA Mandates the Use of Feedback Devices

Larry Alton

February 15, 2018

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If you've ever had to perform CPR, whether you've completed the certification or if the 911 operator trained you in real time, it's never easy. Aside from the stress and seriousness of the situation, it's hard to know if you're doing it right and if there's anything you can correct to do better.

Even when you take CPR classes and get certified, it's still scary having to perform CPR on a person for the first time. There are subtleties to CPR that an instructor can't always correct by watching. Not knowing you need to make those tiny corrections can be the difference between life and death in a real situation. An electronic feedback device, however, is the technology that's improving the way people learn CPR.

Cardiac Arrest is Common But Not Always Treated Quickly

Statistics show that almost 90% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of the hospital don't survive. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), when performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival.

Eighty-eight percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home, but only 46% of those people get immediate help before the medics arrive.

Because cardiac arrest requires immediate action, CPR is the most important skill a person can learn to save someone's life. Many people know this and choose to take CPR classes to learn the proper techniques.

What CPR Does (When Performed Correctly)

Performing CPR on someone who has gone into cardiac arrest circulates oxygenated blood through their body. This action keeps the brain and organs alive until a defibrillator can be used to restart their heart. The chest compressions postpone the death of organ tissue.

It's vital to use the proper amount of pressure and allow the person's chest to recoil fully between compressions. Unfortunately, many people who perform CPR—even rescuers—don't perform compressions with enough depth to create the pressure required to circulate the blood. Feedback devices will change that.

CPR Feedback Devices Will be Mandatory in 2019

Historically, CPR students trained using manikins that didn't provide electronic feedback; they had to rely on their instructors for feedback. However, in August 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) rolled out a new requirement that all adult CPR courses must use an instrumented, directive feedback device. This requirement officially goes into effect January 31, 2019.

The electronic feedback device doesn't replace the instructor's help; it provides immediate feedback for the student to self-correct in real time as they learn. Learning any new skill is heavily supported by real-time feedback. This is especially important with CPR since it's literally a life or death skill.

The new requirement applies to the following adult CPR classes: Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), and ACLS for Experienced Providers and Heartsaver® adult courses.

Feedback Technology Will Save More Lives

If you're curious about how these feedback devices will work, the AHA released guidelines in 2015 containing evidence that highlights the benefits of their use.

According to, "Studies reveal that this technology, which can be integrated into or serve as an accessory to a manikin, helps students master these critical CPR skills and reduces the time between training and demonstration of competence in a training environment."

It's great news that these feedback devices are being designed to work with existing, advanced CPR training supplies like ALS manikins. This is a good move for the AHA considering CPR training supplies are a big investment.

Feedback Enables Constant Course Correction

The feedback devices are designed to provide audiovisual evaluations in real-time to allow students to make appropriate corrections as they learn. The feedback devices will evaluate chest compression rate, depth, hand placement, and chest recoil for the student.

Learning CPR on a manikin is close to the real thing, but it still takes real-life experience to anchor the training. Having immediate, electronic feedback gives students the advantage of being trained more thoroughly and therefore being more successful with their CPR efforts in the real world.

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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