5 On Your Side

Should online CPR training count?

Posted June 9, 2008 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2008 10:45 p.m. EDT

— Every year, about 20,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for choking-related injuries.

It emphasizes the need for proper CPR and first aid training. But Web sites offering quick certification are causing concern.

Whether you take your child somewhere for care or you have a babysitter come to your home, you want that person to know how to do CPR, just in case.

By law, employees at state-regulated day-care centers must pass a hands-on training course. However, babysitters you hire and those who care for children at hourly drop-off centers do not have to be trained.

Many get certified anyway, but as 5 on Your Side found, parents should ask questions about that training.

As a parent, Jessica Tripp embraced the hands-on training she received at a certification class taught by the American Red Cross. The training focused on infants and young children.

“It's very important, because I want to know wherever my child stays, that she is safe and in certified hands,” Tripp said.

That's why Tripp said she was concerned when she took a job at Screamin' Mimi's Kid's Place in Clayton. The business offers hourly drop-off child care. It advertises employees are "CPR and First Aid Certified.”

Tripp said a supervisor pointed her to FirstAidWeb.com to get that "certification.”

“It's quick, (it) takes just a few minutes and you can print out your certification at home on your computer,” Tripp said.

The site lets you pay $24.95 to print a "Certificate of Achievement for CPR." There is a study guide you can read first, as well as an eight-question quiz to pass. However, you can get the certificate without any of that.

“As a matter of fact, you could go through it and fail and go back, look at the answer and they were the exact same questions. And you could basically play with it until you got it right,” Tripp said.

Tripp said she is concerned that child-care providers can get the certificate without ever learning the procedure.

“We're not teaching people how to repair a car. We're not teaching people how to do business 101. We're teaching people how to save a life,” said Mira Batchelor, director of Health and Safety Services with the Triangle American Red Cross.

With CPR, hands-on training is crucial, Batchelor said.

“Who wants to have a shortcut on lifesaving skills? It's all about being prepared to respond in case something happens, and this kind of online training will not give you that,” she said.

Screamin' Mimi’s owner Tara Marley told 5 on Your Side she "prefers" a hands-on class, but to speed the process, she allows employees to get the online certificate. Marley said she hadn't reviewed the FirstAidWeb.com process and said she didn't realize you could "blow right through it."

Both Tripp and Batchelor said they hope this will at least prompt parents to ask about the kind of training their child-care providers have.

FirstAidWeb.com is one of a number of online sites that offer quick and easy "training." The Red Cross and other training organizations sometimes use a blended training where there is an online component. However, they say there is always a hands-on segment.