I was recently asked by a couple of different Instructors about CPR training for disabled students. Both of the students had physical disabilities, were wheelchair-bound and needed the CPR certification for work. In other words, both students needed to prove they could do the skills. While there are a lot of opinions, there are not a lot of resources on CPR training for disabled students. Every student, regardless of ability, needs to achieve outcome-based objectives. We know that certification is earned and not given, but taking a hard line isn't the best route.
1. Understand Each Other: Don’t set limits on a person’s ability. The student needs to know what’s expected as much as you need to know what he or she can do. Have an open and honest dialog with the student well before the course. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable for the Instructor to talk about someone’s disability. The student is the only person who knows what he or she is able to do.
2. Keep it Objective-Based: Keep discussions aimed at the objectives needed to pass. The techniques don’t have to look perfect, they have to achieve the outcome. In my classes, I like to use Prestan CPR manikins which have 2 feedback systems: lights for rate and clicks for depth. I let ALL my students know what’s required: see 2 green lights, hear the click and see 2 cycles of CPR performed in the correct sequence and within the time constraints. Once a disabled student understands the critical objectives, then it’s time to discuss how they are achieved.
3. Ask the Right Questions: For someone without a disability, talking with someone about their disability can feel awkward. However, in the context of CPR training for disabled students, these discussions are welcome. The student may also have a lot questions and concerns about the course they’re about to take. Once you’ve discussed the objectives, it’s time to find out what the student can do. Some questions I ask include:
- Have you had training before? What happened?
- Can you get down on the floor unassisted?
- Will you be able to get up over the manikin and do compressions?
- Do you have time for extra practice before or after the course?
- Would you like a manikin for practice at home before the courses?
Here is the bottom line: if the student can achieve the objectives, he or she passes the course. In the case of CPR training for disabled students, don’t assume what someone can or can’t do without asking.
When the Instructors called me back to let me know how it went, I found that the outcomes were almost identical. The Instructors talked with the students beforehand, and the students were ecstatic to have someone take the time to discuss the objectives. They both practiced on their own before the course, needed a little more time during the course for practice and testing, and were able to keep their jobs!
Here are a couple of additional resource articles for you to consider:
- Participating in CPR Training with a Disability
- How Can I Perform (CPR) if I Have Limited Mobility
- There are a lot of opinions on this string, some aren't so great
Have something to add to the discussion about CPR training for disabled students?