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CPR Skill Retention of First Aid Attendants within the Workplace

  • Gregory S. Anderson (a1), Michael Gaetz (a2) and Cara Statz (a2)

Immediate resuscitation is necessary in order to achieve conscious survival for persons who have lost airways or pulses. However, current literature suggests that even in medically-trained personnel, CPR skills are forgotten shortly after certification.


The purpose of this study was to determine the CPR skill and knowledge decay in those who are paid to respond to emergency situations within the workplace.


Using an unconscious victim scenario, the sequence and accuracy of CPR events were observed and recorded in 244 participants paid to act as first responders in large industrial or service industry settings.


A significant negative correlation was observed between days since training and a pre-CPR safety check variable, periodic checks for breathing and positioning. Many of the knowledge-related assessment skills (e.g., scene safety, emergency medical system (EMS) activation) appeared to deteriorate with time, although they could be contaminated by the repetition of training in those who had recertified one or more times. Skill-based components such as landmarking for chest compressions and controlling the airway declined in a more predictable fashion.


The results of this study suggest that repetition may be more important than days since last trained for skill and knowledge retention, and methods of “refreshing” skills should be examined. While skills deteriorate rapidly, changing frequency of certification is not necessarily the best way to increase retention of skill and knowledge.

Anderson GS, Gaetz M, Statz C. CPR skill retention of first aid attendants within the workplace. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(4):1-7.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Greg Anderson, PhD 715 McBride Boulevard Justice Institute of British Columbia New Westminster, BC Canada E-mail
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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