Frequently Asked Questions

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CPR and First Aid Frequently Asked Questions

Rescue Elite encourages questions from our prospective and ongoing students. We want to ensure we provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information about CPR, First Aid, and AHA Training. We recognize that most people are busy and cannot always reach out to ask questions or may be confused about an issue but are not sure how to ask the question. To do our best in addressing questions about CPR, First Aid, and AHA Training, we have listed some of the most frequently asked questions for you to review.

Cardiac Arrest vs. Heart Attack

People often use the terms cardiac arrest and heart attack interchangeably, but they are not the same. As an instructor, it is important to know the difference:

  • Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating.
  • A heart attack occurs when blood flow to one part of the heart is blocked, and the heart continues beating.
When is CPR needed?

If someone is unconscious, check to see if they are breathing for 10 seconds. If they are not, then you must start CPR.

How effective is CPR?

Research has shown that CPR performed by a bystander improves the survival chances for a victim of cardiac arrest. In 2014, data showed that nearly 45 percent of cardiac arrest victims whose incidents occurred outside of a hospital survived when a bystander performed CPR.

What are the main steps of CPR?

The main steps of CPR are:

  • Recognize there is an emergency
  • Call 911
  • Open the airway by tilting the head back slightly and lifting the victim’s chin upwards
  • Listen for breathing
  • Give 30 chest compressions at the pace of 100 beats per minute
  • Give two rescue breaths
  • Continue until the victim responds, help arrives, or you cannot continue
What are the five cycles of CPR?

This refers to how many cycles of CPR you should perform in two minutes – 30 compressions and two rescue breaths are one cycle. For CPR to be effective, rescuers should perform five cycles in two minutes. Additionally, it is recommended that rescuers swap after two minutes and five cycles to prevent exhaustion and maintain effective compressions.

Is CPR currently 15 compressions to 2 breaths?

It is currently 30 compressions to two breaths for adults.

What are the differences between CPR for adults and children?

Most of the steps are similar, but there are a few differences:

  • For adults, call CPR first before starting compressions; in children, if you are alone, provide 5 cycles of CPR, then call 911.
  • Rescue breaths are gentler for children, and the chin is not tilted back as far.
  • Compressions for adults require two hands and a depth of two inches. However, compressions for children are often done with one hand with a depth of around one to one and a half inches.
Where do CPR guidelines come from?

CPR guidelines are updated every five years to reflect the most recent science and research findings from members of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). The members include:

  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • European Resuscitation Council (ERC)
  • Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC)
  • Australian and New Zealand Committee on Resuscitation (ANZCOR)
  • Resuscitation Councils of South Africa (RSCA)
  • Inter American Heart Foundation (IAHF)
What are the types of CPR training?

There are several types of CPR training available.

  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) teaches healthcare professionals how to treat an emergency, including coronary syndromes and stroke. In this class, students need to know how to read ECG rhythms and understand medication for the patient, so it is generally for doctors, nurses, and paramedics.
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) is like ACLS, but it is specifically ideal for medical professionals who deal with pediatric and adolescent emergencies.
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) is CPR at a healthcare provider level, so the student learns how to use an AED, 2-person CPR, and more specialized training.
  • Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) teaches basic resuscitation skills for newborn babies.
How do I give CPR to someone with an opening in the neck?

Some people have an opening that connects the airway directly to the skin. This is called a stoma. If the person needs breaths, give them directly into the stoma.

I am afraid to give breaths without a mask. Should I just do nothing if I do not have a mask?

You might carry a mask with you. Some masks fold up very small and fit on a key ring. If your job requires you to use a mask and you do not have one, do compressions until someone with a mask arrives. Compressions alone are better than doing nothing.

If I find a person on a bed, should I move her to the floor so that I have a hard surface under her back?

If you can, quickly move the person to a firm surface to give CPR. Make sure you support the head and neck. If you are alone and cannot move the person, try to find something flat and firm. Slide it under the back to provide a firm surface.

What should I do if the person has dentures?

To reduce risk of it getting in the way, remove them.

Trouble finding a pulse during a pulse check?

Even some healthcare providers have a hard time telling if there is a pulse within 10 seconds. It is better to give CPR to a person who has a pulse than to not give CPR to someone who needs it.

What should I do if the person vomits?
  1. Turn the person's head to the side so the person does not choke.
  2. Clear the mouth by sweeping it with a cloth or other material wrapped around your fingers.
  3. Reposition the person and resume CPR.
Does the AHA endorse "cough CPR"?

No. "Cough CPR" does not work if the person does not respond. If you think you or someone else is having a serious medical emergency, phone your emergency response number (or 9-1-1).

I heard that you could cough repeatedly and vigorously to perform CPR on yourself. Is this true?

The AHA does not endorse "cough CPR," a coughing procedure widely publicized on the Internet. As noted in the AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC, "cough CPR" is not useful for unresponsive victims and should not be taught to lay rescuers.

If I am choking and alone, what should I do?

Although there is no science to support this recommendation, a person who is alone and choking may be able to give abdominal thrusts to himself over a hard object such as the back of a chair.

I heard you can do CPR without giving breaths now. Is that correct?

Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by bystanders who see a teen or adult collapse in an "out-of-hospital" setting (such as at home, at work or in a park). It consists of two easy steps:

  1. Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that).
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100-120 pushes per minute.

The AHA recommends that healthcare providers use conventional CPR with a combination of breaths and compressions. Conventional CPR should also be used for:

  • All infants (up to age 1)
  • Children (up to puberty)
  • Anyone found already unconscious and not breathing normally
  • Any victims of drowning, drug overdose, collapse due to breathing problems, or prolonged cardiac arrest
When should I stop CPR?

Stop when…

  • The person starts to move
  • Someone with more advanced training arrives and takes over
  • You are too exhausted to continue or it is dangerous for you to continue, such as during an airplane landing (resume as soon as you can unfasten your seatbelt)
What does it mean to be AED certified?

AED certification means you have been trained to use an Automated External Defibrillator and have proven you understand how to use it safely. Rescue Elite provides AED certification as part of our Heartsaver® CPR AED class, Heartsaver® First Aid CPR AED class, Heartsaver® Pediatric First Aid CPR AED class and our BLS class.

What jobs can you get if you are CPR certified?

While CPR certification is not a job qualification on its own, many jobs require CPR certification, including:

  • Childcare workers
  • Lifeguards
  • Healthcare professionals, including EMTs, nurses, and paramedics
  • Athletic trainers
  • Flight attendants
  • Construction workers
  • Electricians
  • Home health aides and home care workers
What are the advantages of providing employees with CPR certification?

If your industry requires CPR certification, providing it to your employees ensures:

  • Everyone is certified properly, and their certifications are always up to date.
  • Employees do not have to worry about trying to schedule it during their off time.
  • Employees will feel more confident and panic less if an emergency in the workplace.
Can I get CPR training online?

To become CPR certified, you do have to have some hands-on training. However, our Heartcode® programs allow students to do the cognitive and learning part online, then join an instructor-led classroom to practice skills and take the test.

Can I get into legal trouble if I do not do CPR correctly?

Perform CPR to the best of your ability. If you are trying to do the right thing and you are not trying to hurt the victim, Good Samaritan laws will protect you in most states.

Does my AHA course completion card certify me to do CPR?

No. The AHA does not certify people in CPR, first aid, or advanced cardiovascular life support skills; the AHA verifies that, at the time a person successfully completed training, he or she was able to perform skills satisfactorily.

What is first aid training?

First aid training teaches you how to respond to specific types of emergencies so you can provide care to someone while waiting for first responders or medical professionals to arrive. Specifically, you learn how to help someone suffering from serious injuries, a heart attack, seizures, and shock.

Why is first aid important?

By learning how to care for someone suffering from a serious injury or illness, you can literally save their life. The time between the onset of symptoms or injury and being seen by a medical professional is critical, and first aid can provide an improved outcome for the victim.

What are the most important first-aid tips?

The most important thing to learn is to make sure you are safe to provide care. For example, if there is fire or traffic, it is important to make sure you and the victim are in safe areas before beginning CPR. Otherwise, do not move a victim in case there is a neck or spine injury. After that, remember this:

  • Make sure the airway is clear before performing CPR
  • Give chest compressions to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” to ensure you are moving at the proper pace
  • Apply pressure to stop bleeding
  • Focus on keeping the victim calm and avoiding shock
What is Basic Life Support (BLS)?

Basic life support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest and is specifically intended for healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, CNAs, EMTs, firefighters, and other first responders.

Are BLS and first aid the same thing?

BLS and CPR are the same things, though BLS is intended for healthcare providers and emergency responders. It includes more in-depth instruction and instructions for doing 2-person CPR. However, CPR is a part of first aid in that you are providing first aid to someone suffering from cardiac arrest.

Does BLS include first aid?

Yes, in addition to CPR, BLS also teaches first aid.

What jobs benefit from first aid training?

While anyone can benefit from having first aid training, jobs, and industries that require or prefer it include:

  • Childcare workers and daycare workers
  • Teachers
  • Caregivers for the disabled or elderly
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouse and logistics
  • Logging
  • Utilities, specifically electric companies

AHA Training Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum age to learn CPR?

The AHA does not mandate a minimum age requirement for learning CPR. The ability to perform CPR is based more on body strength than age. Studies have shown that children as young as nine years old can learn and retain CPR skills.

Why is AED training included in all your CPR courses?

The science in the official AHA Guidelines for CPR and ECC shows that victims have a greater chance of survival from cardiac arrest when high-quality CPR includes the use of an AED.

I am not a healthcare professional, and I need a CPR and AED course for work purposes. Which course should I take?

Heartsaver® CPR AED is probably best for you. This course is offered in both instructor-led training classes and hands-on skills sessions for blended learning courses.

Are your courses OSHA-compliant?

Our Heartsaver® Courses are for anyone with limited or no medical training who needs a course completion card for job, regulatory or other requirements. While these courses are designed to meet OSHA requirements, OSHA does not review or approve any courses for compliance.

Which CPR course should a "first responder" or "professional rescuer" take?

First responders or professional rescuers generally include fire, police, and emergency medical personnel. These types of prehospital professionals usually need to complete a Basic Life Support (BLS) course. Check with your employer or licensing authority and learn more about our BLS course options.

Which course should a daycare provider take?

The AHA's Heartsaver® Pediatric First Aid CPR AED Course is designed to meet regulatory requirements for childcare workers in all 50 United States. The AHA offers this course in both blended learning and classroom-based formats. We offer Heartsaver® Pediatric First Aid CPR AED classes and hands-on skills sessions for blended learning courses.

Can I take an AHA CPR course online?

For American Heart Association courses that include psychomotor skills such as CPR, students must complete a hands-on skills session to obtain an AHA course completion card. With AHA blended learning, students will practice and test skills to ensure competency during the hands-on skills session. We offer a variety of blended learning and eLearning courses. For blended learning courses, a student completes part of the course in a self-directed manner online, followed by a hands-on skills session in person with an AHA Instructor or using a Voice Assisted Manikin (VAM). AHA eLearning courses are fully self-directed and do not require a separate hands-on skills session.

Do the AHA’s BLS courses include first aid?

No, first aid is not included in the AHA’s BLS courses. The AHA offers a variety of courses that will prepare you to respond to a first-aid emergency, including

  • Heartsaver® First Aid
  • Heartsaver® First Aid CPR AED
  • Heartsaver® Pediatric First Aid CPR AED
Is BLS included in the ACLS Course?

No, BLS is not included in AHA’s ACLS courses. However, it is expected that healthcare providers taking an ACLS course come to class already proficient in BLS skills.

For the purposes of AHA’s CPR and first aid training, what age constitutes an infant, child, and adult?

In CPR and first aid training,

  • An infant is younger than one year
  • A child is older than one year and has not reached puberty
  • An adult is anyone who has gone through or is going through puberty
What should I wear to class?

Our CPR and first aid courses involve hands-on practice sessions, so wear something comfortable. If you have long hair, it is best to wear it back.

How do I get the student materials I need?

Course Materials for each course are offered with course registration and will be distributed based on delivery selection.

May I use a copied manual/workbook?

No. Each student must have his or her own current and appropriate manual or workbook readily available for use before, during, and after the course. The AHA owns the copyrights to AHA textbooks, manuals, and other CPR, first aid, and advanced cardiovascular care training materials. These materials may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the AHA. To request permission to reprint, copy or use portions of CPR, first aid, and advanced cardiovascular care materials, submit a written request to the AHA at

I am visually impaired. Am I able to obtain course materials in Braille?

The AHA does not produce materials in Braille. However, through the proper channels, we can provide you with a student manual/workbook in digital format for your use.

When can I expect to receive my course completion card from the AHA?

Training Centers must issue course completion cards within 20 days of successful course completion. Please contact us if you have any questions about your card.

Can I laminate my AHA course completion card?


How can I tell if my card is a valid AHA course completion card?

To check the validity of an AHA course completion card, contact the Training Center that issued the card. The Training Center’s information can be found on your course completion card.

When do I need to renew my course completion card?

Course completion cards are valid for two years through the end of the month, during which the course completion card was issued.

My card is about to expire. How do I get a new one?

Contact us to inquire about your options for renewing your course completion card. We will also be able to answer questions about class availability and cost.

I lost my course completion card. How do I get a replacement?

Please contact us if you have any questions about getting a replacement card.

Is my AHA course completion card accepted in all US states?

Yes, AHA course completion cards are accepted in all US states.

Can I use my Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada course completion card for employment in the US?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) works closely with the AHA. The HSFC provider card is recognized by the AHA and can be used for admission to an AHA provider course (renewal or update) or Instructor course in the same discipline. The HSFC Instructor card is recognized by AHA Training Centers the same way as an Instructor card issued by an AHA Training Center.

How do I become an AHA Instructor?

Please contact us for more information.

What is the minimum age to teach a CPR, first aid, or advanced cardiovascular care course?

The AHA requires that instructors be at least 18 years of age to teach Heartsaver® and BLS courses. ACLS, PALS, and PEARS Instructors must be at least 18 years of age and licensed or certified in a healthcare occupation where the skills are within the provider's scope of practice.

Can BLS Instructors teach first aid?

Yes, BLS Instructors are authorized to teach all Heartsaver®-level courses, including Heartsaver® First Aid, Heartsaver® First Aid CPR AED, and Heartsaver® Pediatric First Aid CPR AED. Instructors must have a copy of the appropriate Instructor manual for the course that they are teaching. It is also highly recommended that BLS Instructors review a copy of the student workbook for each course prior to teaching the course.

Why do the courses teach compressions and breaths first?

Compressions are the most important skill of CPR. Studies have shown that students mastered CPR skills best when they began by practicing compressions and breaths, then the other skills, and then putting it all together.

Why don't the lay rescuer courses teach jaw thrusts?

It is difficult for lay rescuers to open the airway with a jaw thrust. To make sure that the lay rescuer can open the airway, only a head tilt-chin lift is taught. In addition, all methods of opening the airway can produce movement of an injured spine, so the jaw thrust may not be any safer than a head tilt-chin lift.

Why don't the lay courses teach students to reassess the victim's breathing?

Compressions are at the core of good CPR. Every time compressions are interrupted, the first few compressions are not as effective as later compressions. The more often the compressions are interrupted, the lower the victim's chance of survival.

Why don't we teach AED to infants?

Cardiac arrest in infants is most often caused by a problem with breathing that worsens over a short period of time. This means that an AED is less likely to be effective in infants compared with adults. Also, the 2015 AHA Guidelines Update for CPR and ECG recommends a more advanced defibrillator than an AED. This more advanced defibrillator is taught in more advanced courses. Although an AED could be used for an infant, the science experts were concerned with adding another level of knowledge to this course because infant cardiac arrest is uncommon and because the AED is much less likely to be required. For these reasons, this topic is best left for more advanced courses.

Why isn't there practice for adult and child choking?

Actions to assist a person who is choking cannot be safely performed on other students in the classroom.

Unfortunately, most manikins used in the classroom are not suitable for effective practice. Although we have included the choking practice before, it likely does not prepare people for a choking emergency because it cannot be practiced correctly in the classroom. Rather than practice potentially incorrect techniques such as inadequate abdominal thrusts and to avoid the risk of harm to other students, the choking practice was removed from the course.

Is there a specific place to tap a person when checking for a response?

It does not matter where the person is tapped. For consistency, we teach tapping the shoulder of adults and children and tapping the foot of infants.

Need to claim your AHA continuing education credits?

The AHA offers continuing medical education (CME), or continuing education (CE) credits for some of its CPR and ECC courses, and CME/CE may also be offered for live events. Learn how to claim and obtain your CME/CE Certificate.

How to claim and view your AHA eCard

Learn how to claim your eCard via email, using the eCards site, or via SMS text. Also, find out how to view your claimed eCard and how an employer can verify a student's claimed eCard. Learn how to claim and view your AHA eCard.