Frequent retraining found to be necessary for adequate CPR skill retention.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the competence of a cohort trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation by the BBC's 999 training roadshows.

DESIGN: Descriptive cohort study applying an innovative testing procedure to a nationwide systematic sample. The test sample received an unsolicited home visit and without warning were required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a manikin while being videoed. The videos were then analysed for effectiveness and safety using the new test.

SETTING: Nine cities and surrounding areas in the United Kingdom.

SUBJECTS: 280 people aged between 11 and 72.

RESULTS: Thirty three (12%) trainees were able to perform effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but of these 14 (5%) performed one or more elements in a way that was deemed to be potentially injurious. Thus only 19 (7%) trainees were able at six months to provide safe cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition, large numbers of subjects failed to shout for help, effectively assess the status of the patient, or alert an ambulance. Significantly better performances were recorded by those under 45 years old (31 (14%) v 2 (4%) gave effective performances respectively, P<0.05), those who had attended a subsequent cardiopulmonary resuscitation course (8 (40%) v 25 (10%) gave effective performances respectively, P<0.0001), and those confident in their initial ability (26 (20%) v 7 (6%) gave effective performances respectively, P<0.005). Females were significantly less likely than males to perform procedures in a harmful way (117 (62%) v 10 (12%) performed safely respectively, P<0.005).

CONCLUSION: Television is an effective means of generating large training cohorts. Volunteers will cooperate with unsolicited testing in their home, such testing being a realistic simulation of the stress and lack of forewarning that would surround a real event. Under such conditions the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was disappointing. However, retraining greatly improves performance.

Morgan C L, Donnelly P D, Lester C A, Assar D H. Effectiveness of the BBC's 999 training roadshows on cardiopulmonary resuscitation: video performance of cohort of unforewarned participants at home six months afterwards. BMJ 1996;313:912. [source]