CPR skill deterioration primarily occurs within first year, necessitating refresher training.

In 1979–1980, 950 telephone company personnel were trained and tested at the basic rescuer level on recording manikins. In October 1981, a random group of 40 were retested without warning on the recording manikin. Skills retention was measured by comparing the tapes from training and retesting. Sixteen (40%) of those retested were able to perform effective ventilations and compressions of the manikin with 60% to 70% average retention compared to their training scores. The remaining 24 (60%) had ineffective ventilations or compressions or both. The two groups did not differ in the performance level achieved during training, or in the time interval between training and retesting. Eleven individuals retested at 13 to 14 months did not perform better than those retested later, suggesting the maximum skills deterioration had occurred within the first year. However, the effective performance group on the average were younger, and the majority had first aid training in addition to their CPR training. Only one had CPR retraining. This study supports the following recommendations: 1) lay basic rescuers should be retrained within the first year; 2) further studies of the factors influencing retention are advisable; 3) the younger age groups should be the first priority for citizen CPR training; and 4) because first aid training appears to improve CPR retention, training in both should be encouraged.

Wilson E, Brooks B, Tweed W A: CPR skills retention of lay basic rescuers. Annals of Emergency Medicine 1983;12: 482-484. [source]