A head-to-head trial was conducted to compare laypersons’ long-term retention of life-saving psychomotor and cognitive skills learned in the traditional multi-hour training format for basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator use to those learned in an abbreviated (30min) course.



Laypersons were randomized to either: (1) the traditional multi-hour Heartsaver-Automated External Defibrillator® (Heartsaver-AED®) group; or (2) the 30-min course group (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, choking, and automated external defibrillator use). Immediately after training, and at 6 months, participants were provided identical individual testing scenarios. In addition to audio–video recordings, computerized recordings of compression rate/depth, ventilation rates, and related pauses were obtained and subsequently rated by blinded reviewers.



Performance following 30-min training was either equivalent or superior (p<0.007) to the multi-hour Heartsaver-Automated External Defibrillator training in all measurements, both immediately and 6 months after training. Although retention of certain skills deteriorated over the 6 months among a significant number of participants from both groups, 84% of the 30-min training group still was judged, overall, to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation adequately. Moreover, 93% still were performing chest compressions adequately and 93% continued to apply the automated external defibrillator and deliver shocks correctly.



Using innovative learning techniques, 30-min cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training is as effective as traditional multi-hour courses, even after 6 months. Thirty-minute courses should decrease labor intensity, demands on resources, and time commitments for cardiopulmonary resuscitation courses, thus facilitating more widespread and frequent retraining.