Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

Original Research

CPR Skill Retention of First Aid Attendants within the Workplace

Gregory S. Andersona1 c1, Michael Gaetza2 and Cara Statza2

a1 Justice Institute of British Columbia, New Westminster, BC Canada

a2 Kinesiology and Physical Education Department, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC Canada


Introduction Immediate resuscitation is necessary in order to achieve conscious survival for persons who have lost airways or pulses. However, current literature suggests that even in medically-trained personnel, CPR skills are forgotten shortly after certification.

Hypothesis/Problem The purpose of this study was to determine the CPR skill and knowledge decay in those who are paid to respond to emergency situations within the workplace.

Methods Using an unconscious victim scenario, the sequence and accuracy of CPR events were observed and recorded in 244 participants paid to act as first responders in large industrial or service industry settings.

Results A significant negative correlation was observed between days since training and a pre-CPR safety check variable, periodic checks for breathing and positioning. Many of the knowledge-related assessment skills (e.g., scene safety, emergency medical system (EMS) activation) appeared to deteriorate with time, although they could be contaminated by the repetition of training in those who had recertified one or more times. Skill-based components such as landmarking for chest compressions and controlling the airway declined in a more predictable fashion.

Conclusion The results of this study suggest that repetition may be more important than days since last trained for skill and knowledge retention, and methods of “refreshing” skills should be examined. While skills deteriorate rapidly, changing frequency of certification is not necessarily the best way to increase retention of skill and knowledge.

Anderson GS, Gaetz M, Statz C. CPR skill retention of first aid attendants within the workplace. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(4):1-7.

(Received February 23 2012)

(Accepted May 25 2012)


c1 Correspondence: Greg Anderson, PhD 715 McBride Boulevard Justice Institute of British Columbia New Westminster, BC Canada E-mail


Funding: This work was supported by a WorkSafeBC Innovations at Work grant.