Skills fade and first aid

We believe knowledge of first aid and lifesaving skills are real really valuable skills for life. The ability to recognise a medical emergency, provide first aid treatment and get advanced medical help promptly can help save lives.

‘Skill fade’ is defined as ‘the decay of ability or adeptness over a period of non-use’ – and it is very relevant to first aid. In a 2007 study to determine the retention of CPR and AED skills of cabin crew, 35 cabin crew were assessed on their skills 12 months after their initial assessment. Out of the 35 participants, 18 performed chest compressions at an incorrect site, only 13 achieved the correct depth, and only 20 placed the AED pads in the correct place. This is not an isolated study – there are several additional studies that show how practical first aid skills fade over time

So what can be done to stop skills fade?

Opinion amongst experts is that refresher training should occur every six to 12 months.
Regular training helps reinforce knowledge!

Skills are better retained after facilitated, relevant and practical training – as opposed to lecture style learning.
Hands on, practical training wherever possible is less likely to result in skills fade.

First aid competence is built up through a continuous process of learning, with regular refresher training.
Regular training not only reduces skills fade, but also helps to build confidence to deal with emergency situations when they occur.

By ensuring that training is regular, up to date and practical, the risk of skills fade can be reduced. It’s vital that not only are skills kept up to date, but also that first aiders have the confidence to use these skills when they are required.

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