posted by Matt W on September 25th, 2013

I recently took CPR, AED and First Aid training. The class was fairly fast paced and we skipped around a great deal. I was a bit frustrated because it felt like we were missing a lot, especially when compared to the last time I took the training many years ago. The woman next to me was obviously thinking the same thing. She first mentioned that we had entirely skipped how to deal with choking victims. The response was, “We’ll try to get to that later.” Later, the woman mentioned that we didn’t get much practice with Resesci-Annie (actually it was her distant, much less life-like cousin). Sensing her and many others’ frustration, the instructor stopped and addressed the why-is-this-a-wimpy-class issue directly.

He started by saying that over the years the two main CPR training courses had received a great deal of feed-back. The largest portion of the feed-back was that the class was too difficult. The test was hard. The number of compressions was tiring. Wah, Wah, Wah. So, over the years, they had eliminated the test from most classes and dramatically reduced the number of actual compressions and First Aid experiences. It had essentially been boiled down to watching a really long video.

To hard? You’re training to deal with a life-or-death situation; it’s supposed to be hard. I hope that if I have a heart attack someday, the person that works on me went to the training to learn to save a life and not just get an “easy” certificate.

“Now where do I place that defibrillator pad again? I wonder if they have an app for this? I’ll check.”

“Try calling 911 with that phone instead,” are Matt W.’s last mumbled words as he drifts off towards an unnecessary death.

Hopefully, the goal of most education is to actually learn the subject matter and not to just get the piece of paper that said you showed up. Unfortunately, not only adults, but more importantly our kids are learning that in many cases just showing up is worth the reward.

“Wake up, here’s your CPR certificate.”

“Everyone is a winner; here’s a trophy.”

“That was a good effort, you get an A.”

“You showed up kind of regularly, here is your diploma.”

The real tragedy in this scenario is that the people who try to hold a higher standard are usually punished. A teacher that gives an A to an undeserving student is not questioned, but a teacher who gives a C to a student that is used to getting undeserved A’s will be run out on a rail. The coach that has her team run laps to get in shape and has a few “athletes” complain will probably not be retained. And the CPR trainer that gets low reviews for teaching a rigorous and interactive class is much less likely to be hired again.

My son just completed training to operate nuclear reactors on aircraft carriers for the Navy. Many times during the extensive training he would complain about how physically and mentally demanding the training was. My answer was always the same. “Is there anything I can do to help,” followed closely by, “Thank God the training is difficult, because I wouldn’t want you or anyone else to be operating a nuclear reactor following training that was a breeze.” 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 2 straight years sounds just about right to me. Thank you United States Navy Nuclear Program for being one of the few organizations that has kept their standards high. CPR training could learn a thing or two from you, before Resesci-Annie goes completely away.

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