“We are the world leader in CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) training and education.” (www.heart.org/cpr)  Citing their own science, survival from cardiac arrest is dependent upon “early and consistent Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, specifically, compressions”.  Yet, in the past few years, the American Heart Association® has made it more and more difficult to learn and most certainly to teach CPR.  It stands to reason that if more people are trained in CPR, more victims of cardiac arrest outside of the hospital will survive.  In fact, there is a push going on to require all high school students to be certified prior to graduation (currently the case in 13 states).  You would think that the American Heart Association® (AHA) would make it as easy and inexpensive as possible.  But, the opposite is true.

Two years ago, in an effort to force all students to purchase books, the cost of CPR cards (Heartsaver AED) used to certify lay rescuers was raised to $17.00 per card from $2.50 per card and the cost of the books decreased to $3.00.  That made it impossible to teach CPR for any less than $25.00 per person and then only if the instructor volunteered their time.  This cost increase placed such a burden on the education system that they threatened to stop training their students.  In response, the AHA introduced a special CPR card (K-12 Heartsaver) to be used only in schools.  But the cost to certify daycares, churches and other groups remains at $17.00 a card plus $3.00 a book.

This was done despite the fact that the AHA has changed to an electronic card model, thus removing any overhead for printing cards.   The latest, however, takes the cake.  Until three months ago, multiple vendors competed for the AHA supply market.  Channing-Bete, Worldpoint, and Laerdal were approved vendors for manikins, printed materials (including textbooks, posters, and handouts) as well as AHA certification cards.  Community Training Centers had the option to purchase from any of them.  The AHA has now canceled its contract with all vendors and brought the sale of all AHA materials internal.  That means a virtual monopoly on all supplies that are required to be used by the AHA.  In any other market, this would be like a red light, stopping further purchasing decisions.

In addition, the AHA has revealed “science” that skills are best retained if practiced frequently.  They now have a Continued Quality Improvement (CQI) certification program that requires skill practice every three months.  AND, you guessed it, the AHA now sells a system for this skills practice that includes a cart, manikin, and laptop for the low, low price of $10,000.  This figure is before factoring in the need to release staff from hospital duties every three months to “practice.”  Hospitals cannot possibly afford this change.

The AHA is pushing its “blended learning” model.  In this case, the actual course is taken online and skills are practiced in front of an instructor.  This blended learning model creates a greater margin between the overhead cost of presenting their courses and what the courses are sold for.

For example, a critical care nurse is required, in most hospitals, to hold a BLS, ACLS and PALS certification.  The textbooks are $34.50 each for ACLS and PALS and $14.00 for BLS.  That is $93.00 plus the cost of two 6-hour and one 4-hour course at an average salary of $34.50/hr. That is $645 per nurse.  Multiply that by the number of nurses in a health system and you begin to see the picture.  It is no wonder that many hospitals are looking for other options to certify their staff.  And there are other options.  The American Heart Association® has emphasized their courses as the only acceptable option and spends millions every year making people believe that they are the only option.  In fact, no certifying or licensing agency requires American Heart Association® courses.  All simply state that staff must be educated to respond to any emergency that may arise from conditions, treatment, or sedation that is done on a particular unit.  So for example, if giving conscious sedation, one must be trained in the ability to ventilate a patient who stops breathing.  Most hospitals many years ago simply found it easier to utilize AHA courses for education purposes.  Back then they were affordable.   It turns out that there are many other companies, both online and in-person that offer very similar courses at much cheaper rates.  The fact is that science is not proprietary.  The science is public information and as such can be taught by anyone willing to offer the knowledge.  Pacific Medical Training has reviewed the science and prepared it in a package that is easy to understand, easy to apply to your practice, and actually affordable to those who want or must be trained in emergency cardiac care.   The American Heart Association® has made itself obsolete by grabbing deeper and deeper into the pockets of those that they say they exist to help.   Let’s actually educate people in lifesaving skills.  The life we save may be our own family’s or coworkers.  That was always supposed to be the goal.  The AHA has lost site of it.

Written by and last updated Oct 30, 2019

Last reviewed by on Nov 19, 2019