Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a vital lifesaving technique used when an individual's heart stops beating. Its main function is to keep the blood circulating and preserve brain function until aid arrives. Hospitals, charities and other organizations teach CPR classes both for professionals and for ordinary people who want to be able to help in a crisis. Most of these classes have small fees, but it is possible to find free CPR classes.

Employer-funded CPR Classes

CPR is an important part of first aid in the workplace. As a result, many employers either offer free CPR classes to their employees or will pay for CPR classes taught by other groups. These may be held periodically on company premises or taught in collaboration with a local hospital or a charity such as the Red Cross. Contacting a company's HR or training department can provide information about available CPR courses.

Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations, such as the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, often teach CPR courses or first-aid courses that contain CPR instruction. The courses usually are not free, but at times they may be. For example, the American Heart Association sponsors "CPR Week" -- a week of activities intended to raise awareness about CPR. During the week, AHA branches often offer free CPR classes. Checking the websites or mailing lists of these organizations can provide information on upcoming courses.

Other Courses

Large national organizations are not the only groups that teach CPR. Every area has local organizations that can provide CPR courses, sometimes at no cost. Hospitals, school districts, fire departments, community colleges and other groups may offer these courses. Finding free courses requires a good knowledge of local community groups. Contact local groups directly or check community bulletin boards or websites to locate these classes.

Online Education

Many sites offer online CPR education, ranging from videos to downloadable applications. Some of these are valuable, though they can't take the place of a complete training course with hands-on experience. Would-be CPR students should beware of any site that claims to offer CPR certification with no physical component. The certificates offered don't represent the level of knowledge gained from a full-length CPR course. Nonetheless, even a lesser amount of training offered by online services can help to save a life.

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