According to the American Heart Association choking is the #1 cause of accidental death in children under the age of 1. Learning CPR is critical for new parents. However, a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania found that non-healthcare providers who took a CPR class remain confused about the skills and lack the confidence to respond appropriately. Why? According to Audrey Blewer, MPH, of the Penn Emergency Medicine Department's Center for Resuscitation Science, the solution resides in developing "new approaches to training members of the lay public, especially by providing more hands-on training time."
What does this mean for new parents who are looking for a class? Just like any other service or class, not all CPR classes are created equal, especially classes for new parents. The American Heart Association 'family & friends' guidelines (which is the umbrella under which parent classes are offered) does not mandate a correct return skills demonstration by the participants. Chicago CPR is the leading CPR training company in Chicago for new families - they specialize in safety programs for families and caregivers. They offer the below tips for parents who are looking for a CPR class:
- Investigate before you register. Taking a 'live' class is the best way to learn CPR skills, But, 5 minutes of research can make a big difference in your CPR class experience. Contact the training company or look at their website for the history, background, and types of classes they teach. Are the classes taught by instructors who speacialize in training non-healthcare providers, do they have clinical or real-world experience they can bring to the table, are they passionate about teaching infant/child skills, and what is their tenure in providing this type of service. Classes should have enough manikins so that everyone receives ample practice time. Ask if you receive a take-home booklet.
- Be engaged during the class. Practice with the manikins. A good instructor will make sure that each parent can perform the skills correctly by watching them do a return demonstration. Don't be shy about asking the instructor to watch you to be sure you are doing the skills correctly.
- Refresh your skills every few months. CPR is a hands-on skill. Like any other hands-on skill, each person needs to develop 'muscle memory' to retain these skills. These skills are quickly forgotten, because laypeople do not routinely perform CPR. Parents should refresh their skills every few months by reading their AHA take home booklet.
- Take a class every year or so, as you are building your family. Frequent practice will help you gain confidence and proficiency. However, we know that adult learners retain the information they are most interested in at the time of learning. Many parents take our classes while they are still pregnant, which is fantastic. At that time, they are most interested in the infant CPR portion of the class. As their kids grow out of the infancy stage, parents should take a refresher class so they can feel confident about their skills for helping older children and adults.
- Consider purchasing practice manikins for home use. But, only after you have taken a class by qualified instructors, who can observe your skills. Inflatable manikins/training kids are now available for home use. They are less than $50.00 per kit and include a training DVD.
Visit Chicago CPR for more information or to enroll in a class.