The science behind CPR, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, has changed over the years and so have the recommendations for practicing it.
Washington State University is now requiring its medical students to test their CPR skills every three months to stay sharp.
When many of us learned CPR, we practiced on small plastic manikins with a mouth for giving breaths and a chest for compressing. The WSU medical students have a high-tech version.
“This one’s attached to a computer and the computer will actually coach you and say, ’Speed up. Slow down. Too much ventilations.’ It will make sure that your hand placement is correct and it will give you that real time feedback," said Chris Martin, the director of simulation based training at the WSU College of Medicine.
“When you begin, keep giving compressions and follow the prompts. Start pushing when you are ready," says a female voice coming from the manikin.
“We have it down to the millimeter how deep we need to compress on the chest or to the milliliter the volume of air that we need to breathe for the patient and by providing visual and audio feedback to our students, they’re able to dial those skills in a lot quicker," Martin said.
He says most medical schools require students to practice their CPR every two years to stay current.
“What they find is that, as early as every 90 days, your skills and your proficiency at performing CPR go down quickly," he said.
As for the rest of us, Martin says CPR training every three months isn’t necessary as long as you can remember the basics.
“The requirements for hand placement and ventilation rates have really become more simplified. They were finding that people were almost hesitant to perform CPR because they weren’t sure about their hand placement. So they really simplified the language of being on the sternum and between the nipples," Martin said.
Some question whether CPR is effective. Martin says it’s better than the alternative.