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What Do You Learn in CPR/ First Aid Classes?

You may be considering taking a CPR certification class. You may also have some questions about what to expect in a CPR class. What will you learn? What will the classroom environment be like?

You may also have questions about taking CPR classes online, and how it differs from an in-person or blended learning class. While we address these questions more thoroughly elsewhere in our blog, here let’s look at what you learn in a CPR course.


In any accredited CPR training class, you will learn the most up-to-date guidelines for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. Your course will teach you the proper way to perform CPR skills such as chest compressions and rescue breathing. Depending on the course, you may learn how to perform adult, child, and infant CPR, or focus specifically on adult CPR.

Your class will cover the basic anatomy and physiology of the respiratory and cardiac systems, and how your intervention can work to support them.

Periodically, the American Heart Association updates its CPR guidelines, so it is always important to keep your certification fresh.

How to use an AED

Many CPR classes teach the proper way to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). This knowledge will enable you to save a life in the event of a cardiac arrest in a public area that is equipped with AEDs. You will learn how to access the machine, how to place and apply the defibrillator pads, and the sequence for safely using the device.

You will also receive a wallet card that demonstrates your certification to use an AED, differentiating you from the general public.

How to identify the signs of cardiac arrest

Your course materials will include instructions on how to correctly identify the signs of cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 350,000 Americans die of cardiac arrest. The AHA explains that “If performed immediately, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”

The benefits of recognizing cardiac arrest and being able to take action immediately are very clear. That’s why this material is a key element in CPR certification classes.

How to help someone who is choking

You will learn how to help someone who is choking. From identifying the signs of choking, to the proper method of performing the Heimlich Maneuver when it’s appropriate, your CPR class will help you save lives.

If your class includes instructions on infant and child CPR, you will also learn alternatives to the Heimlich Maneuver that are appropriate for very small children.

A woman taking a CPR class online

First Aid Basics

Many CPR classes will include a basic first aid certification, and more advanced classes may include a Basic Life Saving (BLS) certification as well. Here are just a few of the things you will learn in your class.


Your course will help you to know what to do to help in the event of a fall, a car accident, a broken bone, or another type of traumatic event. You will even learn how to help in the event of an amputation, injury to the head and neck, and more.


You will learn about ways to help if someone is bleeding. This may include the correct application of a tourniquet, when and how to apply direct pressure, and more. Additionally, your course will discuss bloodborne pathogens, and discuss ways to keep yourself and others safe.

Animal attacks

You will learn the basic ways to help in case of an animal attack including dog bites, bee/wasp stings, spider bites, snake bites, or wild animal attacks.


You will be introduced to basic first aid for burns, including how to identify the degree of burn, and how to appropriately intervene.


You will learn how to identify and help in the case of poisoning. This might range from accidental ingestion to chemical events, but your class will help you to know how to help.

How to help in medical emergencies

In your CPR class, you will learn how to help in a medical emergency. The preparedness you gain from high-quality information and course materials will make it possible for you to stay calm in the face of a medical emergency.

When and how to notify EMS

Part of this preparedness is knowing when and how to call for help. Your CPR certification classes will teach you when in an event to call for help, how to closely follow the directions of medical personnel, and when it is safe to leave someone who is sick or injured.

As an example, current guidelines specify that when dealing with an adult victim, and you see them collapse: “If you are alone with no mobile phone, leave the victim to activate the emergency response system and get the AED before beginning CPR”

How to measure and respond to environmental concerns

In a CPR class you will learn about how to assess the environment of an incident scene, and how to respond safely to any concerns that may arise. This might include

  • Fire/ smoke
  • Chemical leaks
  • Risk of explosion
  • Danger of collapse
  • Downed electrical wires
  • Road traffic
  • Gathering crowds
  • Potential for additional danger

Ideally, your CPR training course should give you the information you need to feel confident and ready if an emergency arises. You will learn the responsibilities of those who are certified to perform CPR and first aid, and the laws that protect them.

AED CPR offers several CPR classes online, including those that teach everything we mentioned above. We’d love to help you to earn your course completion card, and to be ready to save a life if the need arises.

Take a CPR class today!

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