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What Is CPR Certification?

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What is CPR? Who should be certified? How and where do you get certification, and how long does certification last?

What is CPR?

Cardiac arrest causes the heart to cease pumping blood. This is typically caused by ventricular fibrillation, which causes the heart to quiver. CPR can deliver a small amount of blood to the heart, which keeps body and brain function going until defibrillation can take place. Defibrillation is a shock to the heart that causes it to resume its normal function.

History of CPR

CPR stands for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Although mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has been around since 1740, when the Paris Academy of Science was recommending its use to assist drowning victims, it was not "officially" invented until 1956. Chest compression was first officially documented in 1891, though the first successful attempt occurred in 1903. CPR itself was developed in 1960 for doctors, and this paved the way for training the average citizen.

Who Needs CPR Certification?

Those who are required to have certification in CPR include: doctors, nurses, licensed physical therapists, chiropractors, dentists and other health professionals. Many times, teachers, lifeguards, camp counselors and other allied health workers are required to be certified as well. While the average citizen is not required to have documented certification, it is always a good idea to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Where to Obtain Certification

Certification is available in person through local hospitals and fire departments. Many websites offer online certification as well. Some employers offer classes from time to time, too, so check with yours to see if that's an option.

Certification Levels

Community level classes concentrate on performing CPR on adults and older children. Some also include AED training, which teaches how to use the electronic defibrillation unit on heart attack victims. Infant and child classes are a good idea for babysitters, nannies and daycare providers. Professional level classes are designed for health care professionals, ski patrol, police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. These classes teach all of the skills previously mentioned, as well as removal of airway obstructions for victims of all ages. Other skills are also included in these classes, including inserting tubes to keep the airway open, using an oxygen tank, artificial breathing apparatuses and techniques for performing two-person CPR.

How Long Does My Certification Last?

Certification lasts for a two-year period, at the end of which re-certification may be accomplished by correctly demonstrating the proper techniques.


Chris Carson has been writing professionally since 1988, specializing in topics such as cats, jewelry, history and English. Her articles have appeared in "Best Friends Magazine" and on various websites. Carson received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Arizona State University.

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