The instruction of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) faces new challenges. With the current poor resuscitation outcomes of victims of sudden death syndrome, the impetus to include early defibrillation as a basic skill for laypersons imposes the need to simplify CPR instruction and reduce the time required to teach this technique. The exploration of an alternative paradigm has gained both public and academic interest. Some of the constraints have evolved around the urgent need to bring both CPR and automated external defibrillation instruction to a much larger population segment and at the same time reduce the time needed to accomplish this task. Additional debate exists with respect to maintaining the current traditional training methods or the use of new media such as video-based instruction, interactive computer-based software, and public service announcements. To answer any one of these questions we are tasked with having to objectively document not only retention and performance of learned skills, but the ultimate impact that any of these elements have on survival and outcome. This has to balance against the ongoing scourge of sudden cardiac death, which claims the lives of 350,000 Americans each year.