Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Center for Resuscitation Science

Mobile CPRTraining Project

An innovative program for the Hartford community provided by the University of Pennsylvania Center for Resuscitation Science

For more information on this project please contact Kelsey Sheak, 215.615.6573 or or visit our Mobile CPR Project website.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: The Problem

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation dramatically improves survival from cardiac arrest, but most victims don’t receive this life sustaining therapy

Although cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been shown to increase survival dramatically from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and represents an essential initial therapy, most SCA victims do not receive this care. CPR, when performed effectively, can double survival from SCA, yet less than 1/3 of SCA victims receive this life-saving treatment delivered to them during their arrest. Though initial care should ideally be the same for all patients who experience SCA, it has been shown that different segments of the population receive lower rates of this crucial life sustaining therapy which leads directly to lower overall rates of survival. SCA is remarkably time-sensitive: for every minute CPR is not performed the chance of survival decreases by 7-10%.

SCA is a leading cause of death in the US, claiming approximately 300,000 lives each year. SCA therefore represents an enormous public health problem. Highlighting the tragedy of this problem, most cardiac arrest victims are men and women between 45 and 65 years old, who are in generally good health but often have underlying coronary artery disease. SCA victims leave behind children, spouses and loved ones, often striking people during very productive periods of their lives. Only 8% of SCA victims survive across the US, with a widely variable survival rate depending on the community.

Dramatic disparities exist in CPR training and SCA survival among communities

Striking differences in SCA survival have been found in multiple investigations of US metropolitan areas. A large study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine specifically looked at disparities in care related to cardiac arrest across the entire country. Data from 29 US sites were analyzed, with the finding that low-income African-Americans were much less likely to receive bystander CPR when compared to their high-income Caucasian counterparts. In another recent study examining outcome differences by race, survival to hospital discharge was worse for African-Americans compared to Caucasians.

These studies highlight the importance of bystander CPR and the crucial problem of disparities in CPR education. The key to solving this problem may reside among clues as to why such disparities exist.

Barriers to CPR training prevent widespread readiness and inhibit saving lives

A study published in 2004 surveyed African-Americans and found that only 23% of those surveyed had ever been trained in CPR. Highlighting the problem of barriers, 76% did not know who to call to receive CPR training and the majority of the participants suggested that their church or community organizations should offer programs for CPR education. Other work has suggested that among all US subpopulations (educated, professionals, students, and retirees), CPR training is woefully inadequate and infrequent.

There are a number of barriers to widespread CPR training, including:

  • Cost: On average, a standard CPR training course can cost approximately $50-$120.
  • Time: The average training course can take 4 hours to complete. 
  • Location: CPR training courses are often held in difficult-to-access locations.
  • Familiarity: The lay public needs to know that they should be trained in this life-saving skill.

pointsMobile CPR: An Innovative Solution

A novel approach has recently been introduced to disrupt the current training paradigm and greatly increase the number of people educated in CPR. This approach, developed by the American Heart Association in conjunction with investigators from the Penn team, hinges on a mobile CPR “kit” that includes an inflatable training manikin and self-instructional DVD – CPR can be learned in under 30 minutes. The use of this video self-instructional (VSI) kit has been tested and validated by a number of research teams including Penn Center for Resuscitation Science scholars. An important additional advantage of the VSI approach is that the kits can be kept by trainees and reused – our work has shown that most recipients end up “training” several other family members, thus providing an opportunity for secondary spread of CPR education. Since it is estimated that 80% of all SCA events occur in the home, training family members and friends in CPR is essential to increasing the rates of bystander CPR.

With this approach in hand, we propose a Mobile CPR Training Program that will proactively bring training to communities in Hartford, and help combat the disparities that contribute to the tragic mortality of SCA. A vehicle, staffed by a program coordinator and volunteers, will be used to run training programs at schools, community centers, faith organizations, and other groups throughout the city, with a goal of training thousands of people each year and serving as a very public and visible message on the importance of CPR training and preparation for medical emergencies.

Summary of Program Objectives

We will implement a Mobile CPR Training Program in the Hartford area that will:

  • Train thousands of community members in CPR using the American Heart Association (AHA)’s CPR Anytime Video Self Instruction kit  – our goal enrollment target would be 10,000 trainees per year.
  • Increase knowledge and awareness around the need for prompt CPR and defibrillation.
  • Engage community groups that might not otherwise access CPR training opportunities.
  • Work closely with Hartford city personnel including the Fire Department and Mayor’s Office in large scale, highly visible public CPR training events.

Mobile CPR Training Program project timeline:







Below is an example of how our participation will be measured. Once the program is up and running we will be able to track participation both by geographic location as well as actual number enrolled. As our project continues to grow, we will update our information in real time to reflect the progress throughout Hartford. Stay tuned for our updated dashboard.

Hartford Mobile CPR Dashboard

Hartford maptherm

About 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home and almost 92 percent of those victims do not survive. Learn how to save a life in less than half an hour using American Heart Association's CPR Anytime Kits