CPR and AED Training

Training of Lay Rescuers Vital

Why Training Is Necessary

Even though AEDs are designed to be easy-to-use and relatively foolproof, individuals who intend to use one should receive training in order to understand the role of defibrillation in the broader context of the cardiac chain of survival. A rescuer trained in CPR and the use of AEDs will be better able to implement all five steps in the cardiac chain of survival, significantly increasing the victim's chance of survival.

AED and practice dummy with pads on chest

Where To Get Training

Training is provided in your community by your local chapter of the American Red Cross, by the American Heart Association, and the National Safety Council. There are also a number of very good and reputable Emergency training organizations all across the country.

Red Cross courses:

  • are half-day (CPR and AED training) or full-day (comprehensive training including first-aid);
  • are interactive and taught by certified Red Cross instructors
  • use hands-on training and videos to prepare the rescuer for a variety of emergency situations; and
  • provide students with a skills card to use in class, retain skills after course completion, and as a quick reference tool in an emergency.

To find Red Cross CPR training in your area, click here.

The American Heart Association (AHA) courses are 3 1/2 hours long and teach:

  • Basic techniques of adult CPR;
  • How to use an AED;
  • Using barrier devices in CPR
  • Giving first aid for choking;
  • How to recognize the signs of four major emergencies: heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest and foreign-body airway obstruction.

To find AHA CPR/AED courses in your area, click here.

The National Safety Council's AED course is 2.5 hours long and teaches:

  • Key operating characteristics
  • Proper precautions and maintenance techniques.
  • Explains how AEDs work and why they're a critical part of emergency cardiac care.
  • Includes guidelines for meeting the state Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) laws, and outlines the need for medical direction. 

The National Safety Council CPR and AED course is 3 to 4 hours long and teaches, in addition to the AED portion:

  • Principles of basic life support for adults, children, and infants.
  • Latest guidelines for CPR and emergency cardiac care, starting with how to assess the scene of an emergency and take stock of the victim's condition.
  • how to perform one-rescuer CPR and rescue breathing, and how to manage choking in a conscious person. It also addresses infection control.

To find a NSC training course near you, click here.

The AHA's Heartsaver AED With Pediatric CPR course is 6.5 to 7.25 hours long and teaches

  • Basic techniques of adult CPR;
  • How to use of an AED.
  • Pediatric CPR skills if students live or work in a setting where children are present.
  • The use of barrier devices in CPR and give first aid for choking for responsive adult, child and infant victims; and
  • How to recognize the signs of four major emergencies: heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest and FBAO.

For an AHA Heartsaver course in your area, click here.


Regardless of which course you elect to take, all:

  • Are designed to build confidence as well as skills;
  • Use lots of hands-on practice in simulated emergency situations;
  • Encourage students to practice on their own until the process becomes more natural.
  • Are open to anyone over the age of fourteen or fifteen who expresses an interest. The more people trained, the more opportunities for saving lives.

Use Of AEDs By Lay Rescuers

In most cases, EMTs (paramedics) and first responders (police and firefighters) are required to know how to use an AED as part of their job responsibilities.

All fifty states now have AED Good Samaritan laws that help protect laypersons from liability for attempting a rescue. Contact your local or state emergency medical services ("EMS") department to find out about Good Samaritan protections that your state provides for users of AEDs or click here to find your state's laws.