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5 CPR and AED instruction tips for EMS educators

Teaching CPR hones teaching, public speaking and audience engagement skills

If you are an aspiring EMS educator, one of the best things you can do to get started is become a CPR instructor and teach CPR skills to laypeople and healthcare providers as often as possible. The repetition will hone your teaching skills, improve your public speaking talent, and increase your ability to listen and respond to questions.

These are my top tips for teaching CPR to lay rescuers:

1. Use and follow instructional materials

Follow the curriculum and use the instructional materials provided by a national or international program, like the American Heart Association or American Red Cross. Believe it or not, experienced educators and instructional designers have researched and tried many methods to develop effective teaching systems.

2. Know your student’s names

Learn the names of your students. They will appreciate your interest in them and it will be easier for you to correct performance mistakes when you address the student by name.

3. Pay attention to the instructional videos

Listen as the students watch the video segments. They will ask questions about specific statements in the video so you need to be ready to answer their questions.

4. Give the war stories a break

Save your war stories and compression heroics for after class (if at all). This is the student’s time to learn to recognize an emergency, call for help, and begin CPR and use an AED. War stories can delay instruction and may cause some students to be reluctant to act in an emergency or seek out additional training.

5. Repetition is confidence building

Encourage and build confidence in your students to take action. Bystander CPR from lay rescuers is strongly associated with surviving cardiac arrest.

Finally, doing CPR doesn’t make you an expert in teaching CPR. But teaching CPR will likely make you better at doing CPR.

What are your top tips for teaching CPR to lay rescuers? And here are five more tips to make CPR instruction great.

This article, originally published November 16, 2009, has been updated

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1 and EMS1. Greg served as the EMS1 editor-in-chief for five years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, national registry paramedic since 2005, and a long-distance runner. Greg was a 2010 recipient of the EMS 10 Award for innovation. He is also a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and the 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Connect with Greg on LinkedIn.