Skip to content
Open navigation
cpr-bystander-intervention-training-hero.jpg cpr-bystander-intervention-training-hero.jpg

3 Tips to Improve Your Community CPR Training Program

Annually in the U.S., more than 350,000 people experience an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).1
And, 4 out of 5 of these events happen within the home.2


Before emergency medical services (EMS) arrive to the scene, bystanders have the opportunity to greatly influence the victim's survival outcome. When bystanders perform CPR within the first two minutes, the victim’s rate of survival can double or triple.3

Sadly, only 46% of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a layperson.4 In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, the results showed exactly why people don't perform CPR.5

Reasons why people chose not to intervene include:6
  • Thinking CPR is too complicated
  • Not having up-to-date skills
  • Not being trained at all

Below, we outline how instructors can address these worries and boost the odds of students intervening in a cardiac emergency.

1. Simplify Teaching to Make Learning Stick

24% of people do not perform CPR because CPR is too complicated.7

CPR training courses geared toward bystanders don’t require the same level of detail as courses for card-carrying healthcare providers. And, in one study, Hands-Only CPR was found to be equally as effective as conventional CPR.8

In addition to thinking CPR is too complicated, bystanders can be reluctant to perform mouth-to-mouth. By simplifying bystander training and focusing on Hands-Only CPR, the likelihood that bystanders will act can increase.



2. Use Engaging Training Methods to Refresh Skills Practice

28% of people do not perform CPR because they feel their skills are not up-to-date.10

To improve retention and increase engagement, evidence shows that learners need to be part of the process. Standardized methods of teaching CPR, such as video and course materials, are essential to achieve uniformity. However, they are not necessarily efficient to garner the level of accountability needed for learners to retain the information.

Hands-on skills practice in itself provides learners with an opportunity to break away from didactic learning. But, this tangible learning can be made even more engaging with new technology, including immediate CPR feedback devices and learning apps.

For instructors hoping to increase learner attention while also improving skills performance, it’s worth considering the upgrade to manikins with automatic feedback capabilities.

3. Collaborate with Community CPR Efforts to Expand Reach

16% of people do not perform CPR because they have not received formal training.11

Common barriers to CPR training include time, access, and cost.12 However, there are initiatives across the country that can expand an instructor’s reach of new students.

Local police and fire departments often plan or participate in safety events for families in their communities. Getting involved and providing CPR training at these events can make an enormous impact as most SCA events happen in the home. Attendees can learn a skill that is most likely to save the life of someone they love.

Another path to larger student reach is through grade schools and their programs. Research shows that states with laws mandating CPR training in schools result in a higher rates of bystander CPR.13

By getting creative with existing and new initiatives, CPR instructors can increase the number of trained bystanders. As a result, more bystanders may be prepared to intervene and save a life when they witness a cardiac emergency.

All health providers and citizens should advocate for CPR/AED education, public AED placement and pay attention to factors in the personal and family history that can increase the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Victoria Vetter, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia*

Lifesaving Community CPR Solutions

Want more content like this?

Sign up for Laerdal Medical email updates. You can identify your interests and receive new educational content, updates, event information and more.

Subscribe Now 


  1. American Heart Association. (2019). CPR statistics. Retrieved from
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. American Heart Association. (2017). 2017 hands-only cpr fact sheet. Retrieved from
  5. American Heart Association. (2017). Many americans afraid to perform CPR. Retrieved from
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. American College of Emergency Physicians. (2018). Hands-only CPR training kiosks can increase bystander intervention, improve survival. Science Daily. Retrieved from
  9. American Heart Association. (2019). Hands-only CPR. Retrieved from,work%20or%20in%20a%20park).
  10. American Heart Association. (2017). See reference #5.
  11. Ibid
  12. American College of Emergency Physicians. (2018). See reference #8.
  13. Healio. (2018). CPR education laws increase survival rates in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Retrieved from

* Healio. (2018). See reference #13.