Inclusive CPR: Adapting Training for Individuals in Wheelchairs

ProTrainings CPR for People in Wheelchairs

Even if you’re familiar with the standard procedures for administering CPR, you may be unsure of how to perform CPR under certain circumstances, such as if the person is in a wheelchair or if you’re in a wheelchair yourself. But mobility limitations don’t have to prevent anyone from giving or receiving lifesaving aid.

ProTrainings CPR for People in Wheelchairs

Instead, CPR training programs and emergency response plans should empower people of all ability levels to save lives and to account for disabilities when providing aid. 

Here’s what you need to know about performing CPR on a person in a wheelchair and how people in wheelchairs can administer CPR to others.

ADA Compliance & Safer Spaces Benefit Everyone 

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide employees with disabilities “an equal opportunity to benefit from the employment-related opportunities available to others. This includes things like recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, and social activities.”

Even though the American Heart Association (AHA) does not provide advice to training centers for ADA compliance with their advanced or basic life support courses, we believe there are a few easy ways for the employer to ensure the CPR training they offer is accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities. 

When creating your emergency response plans, factor in any accommodations needed for disabled employees to receive or provide emergency aid. This includes training other employees to provide specialized aid to individuals with disabilities and training disabled employees to provide emergency aid while making reasonable accommodations for their specific disabilities. 

Administering CPR on a Person in a Wheelchair

If the person needing CPR is in a wheelchair, the first step is to get them flat on the ground if possible. Two or more people can work together to lift the person out of the wheelchair and lower them to the ground before beginning CPR. 

If you are alone, are able, and have enough space to maneuver the wheelchair, follow these steps to transfer the person to the ground:

  • Engage the wheelchair’s brakes.
  • Secure the person to the back of the wheelchair using a belt or other material that you can tie around their chest. 
  • Carefully tip the wheelchair backward toward yourself until the back of the wheelchair is flat on the ground.
  • Unfasten the belt or tie and then hook your arms under the person’s armpits to gently pull them out of the wheelchair and lay them flat on the ground.

Never endanger yourself while administering any kind of emergency aid. When calling emergency services, be sure to inform them that the emergency victim is in a wheelchair, as they will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take.

CPR Tips for Individuals in Wheelchairs

While performing CPR may be more difficult for individuals with limited mobility, it’s not impossible. Limited mobility should not exclude an individual from being a link in the survival chain, as there are multiple roles that are essential in an emergency, and not all of them require you to be literally hands-on.  

Using Your Voice  

Medical emergencies are flurries of activity and intensity – especially if you’re a fan of medical dramas, where actors race to and fro, shouting questionably accurate terminology. 

As a wheelchair user, you may wonder what your place would be in such an environment. What if you could be the leader? 

In an emergency situation, cooler heads prevail. Understanding the flow of action and the proper way to use equipment is essential to saving lives. But if you’re wasting precious seconds with unhelpful action, that can be the difference between life and death. 

If you cannot physically complete hands-on training for a standard CPR certification, you can earn an Advisor: Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, which provides training in directing others to administer CPR. Meaning, you’re directing the scene. You’re calling the shots. You’re making a difference. 

Helping How You Can 

If you’re able to get out of your wheelchair unassisted — or if someone is available to assist you — you may be able to sit next to the victim on the floor and perform CPR. 

If you are someone with quadriplegia or you’re otherwise unable to reach the emergency victim, and there are other people nearby to help, you can still provide aid, even if no one else on the scene is trained in CPR. In that case, you will need to relay instructions to another bystander so they can perform CPR instead. 

Sharing Your Knowledge

There is another way to provide life-saving assistance as a wheelchair user. Once certified in CPR, you can share your knowledge with your friends, family, and community members. You may inspire others to obtain their CPR certification, thus extending the “halo of health” that CPR-certified individuals create. 

If using your voice and sharing your knowledge feels good to you, the sky’s the limit! You can even decide to get involved with local CPR training efforts or with youth-focused CPR training.  

Life-Saving Aid for Everyone

When faced with an emergency situation, considerations of aid go both ways. While it’s important to consider when and how individuals in wheelchairs might be able to assist, it’s equally important to create emergency response plans that take the abilities of all workers, including those with disabilities, into account. 

Likewise, people who are trained in CPR should learn how to effectively administer aid to individuals in wheelchairs or with other mobility limitations. 
At ProTrainings, we believe anyone can learn the necessary skills to save a life. Contact us today to learn more about our CPR training programs.