Skip to main content

CPR Skill Retention of First Aid Attendants within the Workplace

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

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
Hide All
1. Gilmore CM, Rae TD, Becker LJ, Eisenber MS. Three-phase model of cardiac arrest: Time-dependent benefit of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Amer. J. Cardiology. 2006;98:497-499.
2. Eisenburger P, Safar P. Life supporting first aid training of the public—review and recommendations. Resuscitation. 1999;41:3-18.
3. Das M, Elzubeir M. First aid and basic life support skills training early in the medical curriculum: curriculum issues, outcomes, and confidence of students. Teach Learn Med. 2001;13:240-246.
4. Jackson RE, Swor RA. Who gets bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation and survival following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest? J Amer Med Assoc. 1997;274:1922-1925.
5. Cullen MC. First aid retention of knowledge survey. Health & Safety Executive. 1992; Research Paper 32.
6. Parnell MM, Larsen PD. Poor quality teaching in lay person CPR courses. Resuscitation. 2007;73:271-278.
7. Higdon TA, Heidenreich JW, Kern KB, et al. . Single rescuer cardiopulmonary resuscitation: Can anyone perform to the guidelines 2000 recommendations? Resuscitation. 2006;71:34-39.
8. Brennan RT, Braslow A, Batcheller A, Kaye W. A reliable and valid method for evaluating cardiopulmonary resuscitation outcomes. Resuscitation. 1996;85:85-93.
9. Mahony PH, Griffiths RF, Larsen P, Powell D. Retention of knowledge and skills in first aid and resuscitation by airline cabin crew. Resuscitation. 2008;76:413-418.
10. Moser DK, Coleman S. Recommendations for improving cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills retention. Heart Lung. 1992;21:372-380.
11. Leith B. Retention of defibrillation training by intensive care nurses. Can. Assoc. Critical Care Nurs. 1997;8:9-11.
12. Brown TB, Dias JA, Saini D, et al. . Relationship between knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation guidelines and performance. Resuscitation. 2006;69:253-261.
13. McKenna SP, Glendon AI. Occupational first aid training: decay in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills. J. Occup. Psych. 1985;58:109-117.
14. Hubert V, Cassan P, Rifler J-P. Skill retention is enhanced after previous brief CPR training. Resuscitation. 2006;70:325-326.
15. Niles D, Sutton RM, Donoghue A, et al. . “Rolling refreshers”: a novel approach to maintain CPR psychomotor skill competence. Resuscitation. 2009;80:909-912.
16. Woollard M, Whitfield R, Newcombe RG. Optimal refresher training intervals for AED and CPR skills: a randomised controlled trial. Resuscitation. 2006;71:237-247.
17. Pearn J. Successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation outcome reviews. Resuscitation. 2000;47:311-316.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 42 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 309 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.