I recently read the “Do’s and Don’ts” section of a magazine and was surprised at the number of astounding things I saw. Didn’t someone tell these people what to do? Why would someone think a certain behavior is ok? Then I thought about my CPR classes. The one’s I have attended and the one’s I have conducted and I noticed something. No one has ever explained to people how to behave. Yet, we are surprised when people act in ways that are offensive. I have seen minor things like unintentional flashing to major things like violent temper tantrums. We can only avoid this through education.
Thus, I am inspired to write a list of “Do’s and Dont’s” for attending a CPR class. This list is meant to give students a guideline as to what is and is not acceptable in a CPR class.
1) DO call the Training Center prior to registering for your class with any questions. This lets you, the student, have all your questions answered before you shell out money. It also gives you a chance to see if you like the person on the other end of the phone line. Most Training Centers will not refund your money because you registered for the wrong class. It is ok to ask questions-please call me and ask! This one step will prevent/curtail/stop 90% of all issues both students and instructors have in a CPR class.
2) DON’T be afraid to ask questions! Either before, during or after your class, please ask questions. Find out if you should bring a pen/pencil/paper/tissue. Ask what, if any certifications are required to participate. During class, ask me why we do 30 compressions and give 2 breaths. Whatever the question is, I would rather have you stop me during class for clarification than to have you continue on befuddled. If not during class, talk to me afterwards so that I can clarify things for you.
3) DO ask if the certification you are looking for will satisfy your needs. The current list of certifications is extensive and they do not always overlap. For instance, a CPR Pro card from ASHI is not the same as a BLS card from the AHA. ASHI will accept the AHA card. The AHA will not accept the ASHI card. If you show up at an AHA Renewal class with an ASHI card, you will be asked to leave. Do you need to learn about infants? ASK. Do you need to become certified in AED? ASK. If you need the CPR card for your job, we may ask you to speak with your boss/HR department to make sure that the class will satisfy your needs. It is very irritating when a student signs up for the incorrect class and then becomes nasty with us about it.
4) DON’T ask your CPR instructor to bend the rules. They are not allowed to. By allowing a student to skip the written test, not practice on the manikin, accept the ASHI card instead of the AHA card etc…, the Instructor could LOSE THEIR CERTIFICATION. For many instructors, this is more than a part-time gig. Many of us, myself and my husband included, make our living teaching these courses. If we lose our certification, we lose our livelihood. Sorry, but your carelessness in letting your card expire is not worth my job.
5) DO watch your language. Cursing, threatening, yelling at an instructor is a fast-track way to be dismissed from class and, in the case of medical professionals, could result in censure. If it gets bad enough, I may call 9-1-1. Just because you paid for a class does not give you the right to act out and become aggressive. As my Chief Instructor says: “I am as nice as you allow me to be.”
6) DON’T think that the cheapest guy in town is the best. Remember that certifications are not always transferable. You may pay one person $20 for a “Healthcare” CPR card, only to find out that it is not worth the paper it is printed on. Then, you have to sign up for a whole new class-costing upwards of $120.00! Wow-an expensive price shop. By the way, I am not discounting my fees because you failed to do your due-diligence. Ask your Instructor what their qualifications are, how long they have been teaching, how many students they have trained-if they have ever actually done CPR. It is okay to ask-the good Instructors are not offended by such questions. The Instructor who has been teaching for more than 5 years and has taught upwards of 10,000 students may charge you $5-$10 more for your class, but, doesn’t experience have a value too?
7) DO ask your CPR instructor if there is a less expensive option. For instance, if you have an AHA BLS card that is unexpired, you can take a Renewal course or, you may take the written test online at www.americanheart.org and then do a Skills Test with a qualified Training Center. These are both generally less expensive than a full 8-hour BLS course. When you call, verify that you have an unexpired card and are taking the correct online test. But remember, if you show up to either of these with an expired card-you must then take the full BLS course and yes, you will be responsible for the class fees.
8) DON’T come to class wearing clothing you would not be comfortable kneeling on the floor in. I am talking about short skirts, 4″ heels, jogging shorts etc… Keep in mind that you will be leaning forward as well, so if your top is very low-cut, make sure that this is something you are O.K. with. Also, please don’t wear something you can’t clean: you are on a floor! Jeans, Khakis, scrubs are all acceptable. If the class is being held at your workplace or office, ask your boss if you may dress casually for class-that way you don’t run the risk of ruining your nice bespoke suit.
9) DO respect the Instructor’s supplies. Manikin’s are expensive! They can cost up to $5,000.00 per manikin. The one’s that I use cost me $400 per manikin. Believe me, when a student kicks, slams, punches or throws my manikin, it is very disrespectful. Even if the Instructor does not own the manikins, they are renting them from a Training Center-if the manikin is damaged, the replacement comes out of the Instructor’s fee. We also have to pay for our materials. The movie, the books, masks, lungs, cleaning supplies, face shield, registration with various certifying entities is NOT free. Each student can cost nearly $50.00 is just supplies.
10) DON’T groan too loud at the video. We know it sucks. We have to show it to you. We have to see it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It’s okay to laugh at it-it is fun to play “count the mullet” and “spot the Pinto.”
DO have fun. CPR does not have to be a dry, boring, painful experience. If you go into it with an open mind and clear expectations, you can expect an enjoyable class. We enjoy teaching CPR and feel privileged to be able to share life-saving knowledge with our fellow-man. We are not in it for the money, rather for that rare phone call from a former student who thanks us because our training saved the life of their child. To quote my Chief Instructor again: “If you do this for the money, you won’t be doing it for long.”