CPR and First Aid Retention – Revisited

Back in October, we talked about CPR and First Aid Skill Retention. At the time, a WorkSafe BC study showed that many of the skills learned in CPR and First Aid courses were forgotten shortly after certification.

First Aid Retention

The WorkSafe study came to these conclusions:

• Many skills deteriorate rapidly over the course of the first 90 days.
• Repetition (the number of times trained/certified in First Aid or CPR) may be more important to skill retention than the length of time since the last training.
• A number of skills were performed poorly regardless of how much time had passed since the last training.
• Simple and cost effective updating strategies for first aid and CPR are needed to reduce the rate of knowledge and skill deterioration.

Their recommendation was to do a refresher course every 90 days, as individuals who repeated certification tended to score higher on exams. Repetition is the key.

First Aid Retention

Now, fast forward five months and it seems that WorkSafe’s initial findings were spot on. In a review of 11 international studies, researchers have found health providers’ skills in advanced life support typically deteriorated six months to a year after training.

Currently, the standard guidelines call for re-training every two years. These guidelines are quoted as “not optimal” by Dr. Lance Becker, director of the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

So why do widespread guidelines recommend re-training every two years?

According to Becker, one of the main reasons was convenience; historically the two-year time frame was seen as an easy fit for busy schedules. Another, he said, is the lack of good research showing a shorter interval is necessary.

Without evidence from well-designed studies, it’s hard to change guidelines, Becker noted.

What’s needed, he said, is more research into the best ways to train and retrain people in advanced life support and first aid retention.


At Iridia we understand the need to provide high-quality training; we focus our training on positive and interactive instructional methods, combined with practical hands-on components.

Please view our ACLS flyer for more information.

Our medical education and instructors are consistently praised for lowering the stress and pressure that many health care professionals associate with Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) continuing education.

If you are interested in continuing your medical education please visit us, we provide a wide variety of courses from ACLS to basic CPR and AED training and recertification.

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