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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automatic external defibrillator training in schools: “Is anyone learning how to save a life?”

  • Devin Hart (a1) (a2), Oscar Flores-Medrano (a1) (a3), Steve Brooks (a1) (a4) (a5), Jason E. Buick (a1) (a6) and Laurie J. Morrison (a1) (a4) (a6) (a7)...



Bystander resuscitation efforts, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED), save lives in cardiac arrest cases. School training in CPR and AED use may increase the currently low community rates of bystander resuscitation. The study objective was to determine the rates of CPR and AED training in Toronto secondary schools and to identify barriers to training and training techniques.


This prospective study consisted of telephone interviews conducted with key school staff knowledgeable about CPR and AED teaching. An encrypted Web-based tool with prespecified variables and built-in logic was employed to standardize data collection.


Of 268 schools contacted, 93% were available for interview and 83% consented to participate. Students and staff were trained in CPR in 51% and 80% of schools, respectively. Private schools had the lowest training rate (39%). Six percent of schools provided AED training to students and 47% provided AED training to staff. Forty-eight percent of schools had at least one AED installed, but 25% were unaware if their AED was registered with emergency services dispatch. Cost (17%), perceived need (11%), and school population size (10%) were common barriers to student training. Frequently employed training techniques were interactive (32%), didactic instruction (30%) and printed material (16%).


CPR training rates for staff and students were moderate overall and lowest in private schools, whereas training rates in AED use were poor in all schools. Identified barriers to training include cost and student population size (perceived to be too small to be cost-effective or too large to be implemented). Future studies should assess the application of convenient and cost-effective teaching alternatives not presently in use.

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Corresponding author

Rescu, Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1W8;


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