Skip to content
Open navigation

10 Tips for Effective Bystander CPR Training 

Incorporate these ten tips to help ensure that every student leaves your classroom confident and prepared to act during a sudden cardiac arrest.



Add context that’s most relevant to your learners.

Since 73% out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the home1, ask your learners to envision performing CPR on a family member instead of a random person in the community. This added context may help them feel more prepared for the actual situation they’re most likely to encounter.2


Clear up confusion about cardiac arrest recognition.

One study found that nearly 50% of bystanders didn’t recognize a cardiac arrest when they witnessed one.3

Be sure to carefully review common barriers to recognition, including inability to determine bluish color of the patient, inability to recognize possible seizure activity, and difficulty distinguishing abnormal breathing from normal breathing.4


Emphasize that some CPR is better than no CPR.

You may hear this phrase a lot, but it’s likely news to many of your learners: studies indicate that fear of causing harm or improperly performing CPR is the most common barrier to acting in a sudden cardiac emergency.5 Reinforce to your learners that they’re much more likely to do good than harm.


Use gamification to make learning "stick."

Using games as a training tool can increase engagement levels and CPR skill retention.6 Try incorporating some fun and friendly competition into your game, which has been shown to help motivate learners during CPR training.7 


Aim for high-quality CPR

The quality of CPR delivered has a major impact on survival.8 Be sure you’re using feedback devices that reinforce the key parameters of high-quality CPR, including adequate compression depth and rate, full recoil, minimal pauses in compressions, and adequate ventilation.


Monitor each student closely during practice.

Consider using a device or app that allows you to easily keep an eye on all learners so you can quickly identify who needs help. 


Provide as much practice time as possible.

Repetitive practice is essential to building muscle memory and mastering a psychomotor skill like CPR. Allow your students to practice their skills as many times as it takes to feel confident. Using lighter, more portable manikins can make it easier to bring more of them to class to increase practice opportunities.


Encourage your learners often.

Everyone responds to some simple reinforcement! Learners who may be struggling will appreciate the additional coaching.


Let your learners know how they did post-session.

Consider using a tool like the QCPR App to provide summative feedback, including a percentage score. Review each learner’s performance with them, highlight areas of strength and weakness, and finish with a tip for how to improve.


Seek efficiencies in your course setup and execution.

Consider utilizing manikins, AED trainers, and feedback devices that can be set up quickly and integrate seamlessly with each other to save you time and effort. This will help you to focus on what’s most important: preparing your learners to be confident, prepared future lifesavers. 

Helping you build prepared lifesavers in your community


  1. CPR Facts & Stats. (n.d.) American Heart Association. Retrieved from
  2. Dainty, K. N., Colquitt, B., Bhanji, F., Hunt, E. A., Jefkins, T., Leary, M., Ornato, J. P., Swor, R. A., & Panchal, A. (2022). Understanding the importance of the lay responder experience in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 145(17).
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Highlights from the Resuscitation Education Science Scientific Statement. (2018). American Heart Association. Retrieved from
  7. Smart, J., Kranz, K., Carmona, F., Lindner, T., & Newton, A. (2015). Does real-time objective feedback and competition improve performance and quality in manikin CPR training – a prospective observational study from several European EMS. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 23(1).
  8. Meaney, P. A., Bobrow, B. J., Mancini, M. E., Christenson, J., de Caen, A. R., Bhanji, F., Abella, B. S., Kleinman, M. E., Edelson, D. P., Berg, R. A., Aufderheide, T. P., Menon, V., & Leary, M. (2013). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation quality: Improving cardiac resuscitation outcomes both inside and outside the hospital. Circulation, 128(4), 417–435.