Background: Recent literature states that many necessary skills of CPR and first aid are forgotten shortly after certification. The purpose of this study was to determine the skill and knowledge decay in first aid in those who are paid to respond to emergency situations within a workplace.
Methods: Using a choking victim scenario, the sequence and accuracy of events were observed and recorded in 257 participants paid to act as first responders in large industrial or service industry settings. A multiple choice exam was also written to determine knowledge retention.
Results: First aid knowledge was higher in those who were trained at a higher level, and did not significantly decline over time. Those who had renewed their certificate one or more times performed better than those who had learned the information only once. During the choking scenario many skills were performed poorly, regardless of days since last training, such as hand placement and abdominal thrusts. Compressions following the victim becoming unconscious also showed classic signs of skill deterioration after 30 days.
Conclusions: As many skills deteriorate rapidly over the course of the first 90 days, changing frequency of certification is not necessarily the most obvious choice to increase retention of skill and knowledge. Alternatively, methods of regularly "refreshing" a skill should be explored that could be delivered at a high frequency - such as every 90 days.