Online-Only CPR Not Accepted by Regulators

BEWARE!! Online-Only CPR Deemed Unacceptable

by Steve Thomas, EMT-P

Recently several of our clients and prospective clients have mentioned that they are “going online” and doing all their training via online-only training, with no in-person or hands-on instruction required.  On the face of this, it seems a very good idea; no classroom time, no travel, work at your own convenience.  But online-only CPR and First Aid training is is not legitimate or acceptable by regulators, including OSHA, most State agencies, and most professional bodies.

All acceptable CPR and First Aid training requires hands on practice with an instructor, and assessment of skills by an instructor. Period.

In the US, guidelines for CPR are issued by the American Heart Association, and all legitimate training agencies follow them.

AHA Guidelines state:

“Hands-on Practice – Substantial hands-on practice is needed to meet psychomotor skill performance objectives.”

OSHA Says, in interpreting it’s CPR Standards:

“Online training alone would not meet the requirements of these training standards. The word “train” is defined as “[t]o make proficient with special instruction and practice,” Webster’s II New Collegiate Dictionary, 1995, p. 1,169. These standards require training in physical skills, such as bandaging and CPR. The only way these physical skills can be learned is by actually practicing them. “

The Texas Dental Board regulations are an example of agencies requiring HANDS-ON CPR training:

“CPR training must include a written assessment and demonstration of CPR skills with an instructor present.  Computer and video-based CPR training courses given by a live instructor that include a written assessment of skills and hands-on manikin training by the applicant, licensee or registrant are acceptable.  Online courses that do not include hands-on manikin training by the applicant and a written assessment of skills are not acceptable.”

It really makes sense; would you go to a doctor who had never seen a patient?  Or an electrician who had never handled wires or live current?  Or even a barber who had never REALLY cut anyone’s hair?  Training in hands-on skills requires hands-on training.  It is just not possible to really learn CPR or First Aid without actually getting your hands on manikins and trainers, with a qualified instrutor looking over your shoulder and coaching you.

It is acceptable to use the “Blended Learning” approach, where the classroom portion is done online, and after they’ve all completed the online portion there is a session with a qualified instructor, in person, to practice and verify the skills.  The key is an instructor is there, giving feedback and coaching the hands on skills.

I know the online-only CPR/AED and First Aid training vendors make it look like they are “Approved” and “AHA Compliant” and “Meet AHA Guidelines”.  But they aren’t approved, and they don’t meet guidelines. They are not legitimate, not accepted by most authorities.  You need training that is effective at saving lives AND acceptable to OSHA and other regulators.  And that requires hands on training.


Steve Thomas, EMT-P
Executive Director
AlertCPR Emergency Training Institue
1278 Justin Rd, Suite 109-B9
Lewisville, TX 75077