Industry News, Top Story, Training

Red Cross Debuts Innovative Resuscitation Curriculum

The American Red Cross just announced the official launch of the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite. Well-known for their CPR and basic life support (BLS) training for healthcare providers, the organization has been hard at work on completely reimagining and expanding their education offering to also include advanced life support (ALS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS).

In development for about two years, the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite incorporates innovative learning methodology advances, including adaptive learning so participants may customize their learning path—which reduces instruction time and helps keep costs down.

JEMS spoke with American Red Cross Chief Medical Officer David Markenson, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FCCM, FACHE, about the organization’s new certification offering and how it benefits EMS and other public safety agencies and providers.

JEMS: Many EMTs and paramedics are familiar with American Red Cross CPR and BLS training—what does this new program mean to EMS agencies and individual EMS providers?

Dr. Markenson: This is a great question and one I love answering because I get to talk about what makes the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite program outstanding. The Red Cross has been teaching resuscitation and first aid for more than 100 years; in fact, the Red Cross was the very first provider of resuscitation and first aid education in the United States. So, it’s very logical that we’re now taking all of the knowledge gleaned over the years and offering it to healthcare providers in the form of BLS, ALS, and PALS courses. These courses were in development for more than two years and were personally overseen by me and members of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. It’s something that we’re all very proud of and it’s so exciting to teach them, as I’ve been doing for the past several months.

JEMS: What does this mean personally to individual EMS and prehospital care providers?

Dr. Markenson: EMS providers will finally have a choice in resuscitation education. Not only will educators and students have a choice, but it’s a flexible one. For example, the American Heart Association (AHA) just instituted mandatory feedback devices. The Red Cross recommends them, but they’re not mandatory.

Healthcare providers are going to love the Review and Challenge options. EMS professionals have three training options: 1) They can take the full course. 2) If they have current certification, they can do a brief skills review before testing, then go straight into the in-person skills assessment. We call this the Review Option. 3) For experienced providers, the Challenge Options offers an expedited path to certification. It’s a test-only option, but if the provider doesn’t pass the assessment, they will need to take the full course.

JEMS: What will EMS providers like about this vs. the way they usually certify/recertify?

Dr. Markenson: From testing the courses with EMS providers, we know that they appreciate that the course is direct and easy to navigate. It allows those who are experienced providers the option to test out of the cognitive learning sections. Providers will appreciate that the courses contain the latest scientific information including the ILCOR continuous process with the 2017 and 2018 updates, Surviving Sepsis, and use of bleeding management techniques informed by the Stop the Bleed initiative  including use of tranexamic acid (TXA). … The blended learning courses use actual healthcare providers in scenarios that offer realism that you can’t get with a game-based program. It asks thought-provoking questions based on actual scenarios they may encounter. And, unlike others, there are no hard-to-learn games, so that automatically helps improve the learning process and retention.

I believe that EMS providers will like the focus on critical thinking, decision-making and team concepts. In classroom practice scenarios, they will debrief and practice as a team, as well as design as a team. This is different than other courses that teach team dynamics but test people individually. The team test offers a much better assessment.

JEMS: How will this new curriculum improve resuscitation outcomes?

Dr. Markenson: The literature is clear: education that incorporates the latest clinical science but also uses educational science to design the program will improve outcomes. This is due to both incorporation of techniques and interventions that improve outcomes combined with education that enables the learner to act, make the correct decisions and improves team dynamics. Further, the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite blended learning is delivered via adaptive learning, which stresses decision process and team dynamics. Together, it informs our belief that the new Red Cross resuscitation education, which is based on ILCOR and other latest evidence standards such as Surviving Sepsis, Trauma Care and the input of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, will improve skills retention and better serve patients. All of this, combined, will improve resuscitation outcomes.

JEMS: What is “adaptive learning” and how does the training program measure a provider’s competency?

Dr. Markenson: The adaptive learning element is part of the blended learning component of the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite program. Every learning objective in every lesson is paired with a series of questions that measures the student’s cognitive knowledge. If students demonstrate they have knowledge, then they have the option of skipping the cognitive learning section and proceeding directly to that integrative scenario. I think that’s key to remember—this is an optional feature. Those who may have the knowledge but still wish a review can take the online portion, but those who are comfortable with their knowledge can save time. It’s also important to note that whether or not students skip content, they’re not able to skip the interactive scenario, and they can’t skip the final exam. 

JEMS: What are the benefits for EMS training managers?

Dr. Markenson: There are so many benefits that EMS training managers will appreciate—it’s hard to know where to start. Let’s begin with the fact that EMS training managers finally have a choice in resuscitation education that’s a scientifically equivalent and educationally superior one, and with so many operational benefits. All materials are downloadable, and the online streaming videos are available at no additional cost. Managers will have immediate access to the student certificate once the instructor electronically submits a successful course completion record. And although we encourage digital certificates, there’s an option to call customer service for a printed certificate in the unlikely case that a student doesn’t have email access. The blended learning courses are fully ADA compliant and available on any device, so classroom time can be shifted as needed. And for current AHA or American Safety and Health Institute (ASHI) instructors, it’s very easy to bridge over to the Red Cross.

JEMS: And for those in the executive suite…what are the operational and financial benefits to adopting this program?

Dr. Markenson: EMS is not a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 business. So, it’s important to the Red Cross that service delivery meets the needs of busy training centers. The Red Cross gives Training Centers a single point of contact for account management. And its customer service phone and online chat service are open six days a week with early morning, night, and Saturday hours convenient for working instructors and educators. Other course providers don’t offer that.

Simply said, financially it’s a better solution at a better price. On average, these healthcare courses cost about 20% less than AHA and RQI Partners training. The pricing is wrapped into the course itself without separate prices for books, DVDs, course completion cards or manuals. Online streaming videos are free! And, the Red Cross is the only CPR training organization that contributes its entire margin to our lifesaving non-profit mission, including disaster relief, blood collection and services to the Armed Forces.

For more about the American Red Cross Resuscitation Suite, visit