I recertified for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) this week with ICE Safety Solutions in Fremont and the two hour, virtual reality-and-Zoom class flew by.

The night before, a box containing all sorts of props for us to practice with came to my doorstep. Pamela Isom, the president and founder, participated in the training. She told us that she came up with the VR version of her training — a first in the field — a couple years before the pandemic but it’s really useful now. The class alternates between 10-minute VR sessions with an Oculus headset, followed by practicing on the dummy or with the test equipment provided.

The night after the training, I had the whole family practice CPR with the dummy and the fake AED (defibrillator) machine they sent, since I figured this was a unique opportunity to do so. We also had fun stabbing each other in the thigh with the fake epi pen.

Here are some important points I took away from the training:

  1. The average time you may be giving CPR is 7 minutes.
  2. CPR is hard work. You need to push down to a depth of 2 inches and then let the chest fully recoil.
  3. CPR is fast, done to the beat of “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees. A nice touch in the class is that they played the song multiple times while we practiced three different times giving CPR, which was a bit of a workout.
  4. The AED machine will tell you exactly what to do. After you have given a shock to the patient, it will tell you to administer CPR until paramedics arrive, and it will play a metronome beat for you to follow.
  5. People often forget that a major purpose of CPR is to keep blood flowing to the brain to keep that organ alive.
  6. It’s often said that CPR breaths aren’t effective. Pamela said that in fact, giving two breaths after every 30 compressions is very effective, it’s just that for people who aren’t trained in CPR, they advise compressions alone.
  7. The survival rate for patients who receive CPR, AED and EMT (emergency medical technician) help is 75%, according to Pamela.

We also practiced choking in the class with a unique vest that has a jug on the front of it that you stuff with two nerf darts. After the class, we practiced in our family using the vest on ourselves and each other. Giving yourself or another the Heimlich maneuver is also hard! I learned a technique for dealing with someone much bigger than yourself: Have them stand against a wall so that you can press into their stomach from the front. In the case of obese or pregnant choking victims, you can do a compressing on their chest, which will stimulate a cough. They also showed us how to do it on a dog! Finally, we also had baby dolls upon which we practiced both rescuing from choking and CPR.

At the end of the class, we were all certified, and the next day I dropped the box off for return shipping to ICE! I highly recommend Pamela Isom’s VR training.