Types of CPR Training

Choosing the right cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course can be a challenge—because the type of CPR training you need may vary depending on what you’re using it for. A new parent who wants to be prepared for anything has different needs from a firefighter or emergency room nurse.

To get your bearings, it might be helpful to compare our courses with those offered by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Red Cross. Our courses cover most of the same territory, we’ve built all our training modules around AHA guidelines, and they are compliant with AHA, ECC, and ILCOR best practices.

But each organization labels their courses a bit differently—and comparing them can be confusing. To help you sort out your options, we’ve prepared an overview of the courses we offer, what they cover, who typically takes them, and how they compare with the Red Cross and AHA course structure.

It’s important to bear in mind that you can’t get certified online through Red Cross and AHA courses. Both organizations offer online classes, but if you want the certification, you need to do an in-person skills assessment.

Read on for more information.

Adult, Child, and Infant CPR & AED

This course provides CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) training for adults, children, and infants. It’s best suited for non-medical professionals who need CPR certification as a work requirement, especially those responsible for the care of children or vulnerable adults.

The topics covered include:

  • Chest compressions and rescue breathing for adults and children
  • Pediatric CPR
  • Hands-only CPR
  • Using an Ambu Bag
  • AED training for adults and children
  • First aid for choking in adults, children, and infants

This course is particularly well suited to:

  • Childcare providers
  • Adult daycare workers
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Coaches and teachers
  • Camp counselors
  • Home health aides

AHA Equivalent: This course is comparable to the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver CPR AED course. Like ours, this is a course designed for non-medical professionals who need CPR for work.

This course covers CPR and AED training for adult victims only, but offers optional content for children and infants.

Red Cross Equivalent: This course is also similar to the Adult, Child and Baby First Aid / CPR / AED course offered by the Red Cross—except that the Red Cross course is a bit heavier on the first aid training.

The Red Cross also offers CPR and AED training for non-medical professionals as part of larger curriculums geared toward babysitting and childcare, swimming and water safety, and lifeguarding.

Adult-Only CPR & AED

This class provides in-depth CPR and AED training for adult victims only. As with the course above, it’s best suited for those who aren’t medical professionals, but who may need to deliver CPR in a workplace setting. People taking this course may be responsible for vulnerable adults, but not usually for children.

Topics include:

  • Hands-only CPR and rescue breathing for adults
  • Using an Ambu bag
  • Using an AED for adults
  • First aid for choking in adults

Those who typically take this course include:

  • On-site safety officers
  • Security personnel
  • Correctional officers
  • Tradespeople
  • Food and beverage workers
  • Hospitality professionals

AHA Equivalent: As with the first course above, this one is roughly analogous to AHA Heartsaver CPR AED Training—without the child and infant modules.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross also offers an adult-specific CPR and AED course: Adult CPR / AED. 

BLS Certification

BLS (or “Basic Life Support”) certification is our CPR training for healthcare professionals. The topics covered include:

  • Chest compressions and rescue breathing for adults, children, and infants
  • Life support techniques for victims of drowning, shock, and drug overdose
  • In-depth first aid training
  • Using an AED for adults, children, and infants
  • OSHA-compliant bloodborne pathogen training

Those who typically take this course include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Paramedics and emergency response personnel
  • Firefighters
  • Physical therapists
  • Physician assistants
  • Nursing home care providers
  • Lifeguards
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists

AHA Equivalent: This course is similar to the AHA’s Basic Life Support / HeartCode BLS course for healthcare professionals. The AHA offers a range of courses for medical professionals, including:

  • HeartCode Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization (PEARS)

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross also offers a BLS for Healthcare Providers course that’s similar to our BLS program. Their additional CPR training programs for healthcare providers include:

  • BLS for Healthcare Providers
  • CPR for Healthcare Providers
  • Advanced Life Support (ALS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)

Basic First Aid Certification

This course is designed for those who want to be able to deliver basic medical care, but don’t need complete CPR training. Often, those who are already CPR certified take this course to round out their knowledge.

Topics include treatment for:

  • Minor and major cuts and burns
  • Heat stroke
  • Bites and stings
  • Sprains and strains
  • Choking

People who often take this course include:

  • Parents and foster parents
  • Daycare providers
  • Babysitters
  • Camp counselors
  • Tradespeople
  • On-site safety officers
  • Food and beverage workers
  • Teachers and coaches

AHA Equivalent: The AHA offers a first aid course specifically for non-medical professionals: Heartsaver First Aid.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross offers an online first aid training course, as well as specific first aid training for:

  • Infants and children
  • Opioid overdoses
  • Severe bleeding
  • Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector
  • Cats and dogs

Adult, Child, & Infant CPR and First Aid

This course combines CPR and AED certification from our Adult, Child, and Infant CPR & AED course with in-depth first aid training. It’s a well-rounded certification program for non-medical professionals who may be responsible for the safety of children or adults.

Topics covered include:

  • Adult, child, and infant CPR, with and without rescue breathing
  • Using an Ambu bag
  • Using an AED on children and adults
  • First aid for major and minor cuts
  • Treating an unconscious person
  • First aid for fainting and heat stroke
  • Treatment of bites and stings
  • Sprain and strain treatment
  • How to manage the scene of an accident
  • First aid for choking in adult, children, and infants

Those who often take this course include:

  • Parents and foster parents
  • Teachers and coaches
  • Childcare providers
  • Caregivers of vulnerable adults
  • Home health aides
  • Adult daycare providers

AHA Equivalent: The AHA Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED course offers a similar broad range of topics spanning CPR, AED, and first aid. The course is for adults, but offers an optional child and infant module.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross’s Adult, Child and Baby First Aid / CPR / AED course covers a similar range of topics.

Bloodborne Pathogens Certification

This OSHA-compliant course is designed for healthcare providers and others who may encounter bloodborne pathogens, and need to know how to respond to exposure and lower the risk.

Topics covered include:

  • The basics of bloodborne pathogens including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and AIDS
  • OSHA requirements for workplace safety
  • Reducing the risk of exposure
  • Universal Standard Precautions
  • Good housekeeping practices for high-risk workplaces
  • What to do if you’ve come in contact with blood or bodily fluids
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Handling and disposing of hazardous medical waste
  • Proper post-exposure reporting and follow-up

Those who typically take this course include:

  • Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals
  • Tattoo and piercing artists
  • Athletic coaches
  • Camp counselors
  • Nursing home employees
  • Home health aides
  • Lab technicians
  • Research scientists who work with bloodborne pathogens
  • Law enforcement professionals
  • Crime scene cleanup professionals

AHA Equivalent: The AHA offers the Heartsaver Bloodborne Pathogens course, which is also OSHA-compliant.

Red Cross Equivalent: The Red Cross offers Bloodborne Pathogens Training, as well as Bloodborne Pathogens Training for Tattoo Artists.

Other Course Options with the Red Cross and AHA

Both the Red Cross and AHA offer other courses that we don’t currently carry equivalents for. Two of the most commonly required courses you may encounter are the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) courses.

ACLS Training

This course builds on the skills learned in BLS training courses, and is designed for healthcare professionals. It takes an in-depth look in how to manage cardiovascular emergencies, including cardiac arrest, in an emergency situation.

Topics typically covered include:

  • Basic life support, including CPR with chest compressions, use of an Ambu Bag, and AED training.
  • Early recognition and management of cardiac arrest and other conditions such as symptomatic bradycardia.
  • How to manage an airway
  • Pharmacology for cardiac emergencies
  • ACS and stroke management
  • How to lead and function as part of a resuscitation team

AHA ACLS Training: The AHA offers two courses in this area under its Healthcare Professionals category: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and  Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support for Experienced Professionals.

The course for experienced professionals is for those who already have BLS and ACLS knowledge, can read an ECG, and regularly lead emergency teams in responding to cardiac emergencies. It teaches advanced skills in caring for cardiac and respiratory arrest victims up to transfer of care, as well as delivering post-arrest care.

ACLS Training with the Red Cross: The Red Cross calls this type of course ALS (Advanced Life Support). They offer a similar course that requires BLS certification as a pre-requisite, in both in-person and blended-learning formats.

PALS Training

PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) is training for people who typically respond to emergency situations involving young children and infants. Those include professionals in critical and intensive care as well as emergency medicine.

AHA PALS training: The AHA offers two courses, PALS and PEARS (Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization) training. Professionals who take these courses include:

  • Doctors and nurses
  • Physician assistants
  • EMTs
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Critical care healthcare providers
  • Outpatient clinic staffmembers
  • School-based healthcare providers

The PALS course is geared toward medical professionals who specialize in treating children, while the PEARS course is more focused on those who provide lifesaving care, but don’t typically treat children.

Red Cross PALS training: The Red Cross also offers Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) with BLS training as a pre-requisite.

If you’re not sure which course you need for work, the first place to check is with your employer.

The Red Cross and American Heart Association both offer a range of CPR training courses for healthcare professionals and laypeople. While their courses are organized differently, they cover very similar topics. The only caveat is that you can’t get your certification fully online with them—and with us, you can.