Have you ever witnessed an emergency medical situation and seen someone jump up and yell, “I can help!” even though they weren’t a doctor or a nurse? They likely had some type of life-saving certification. The three most common types of life-saving certifications that anyone can get are CPR, AED, and First Aid. Let’s look closer at what each one involves.


CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and those who administer it do so when the heart isn’t beating well enough to deliver blood to vital organs or when the heart stops. According to the CDC, when a person receives CPR within a few minutes of cardiac arrest, it doubles or even triples their chance of survival.

During certification, a person learns how to determine if CPR is needed and then how to perform it properly according to the size of the person and the emergency. Since around 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside the hospitals and most often at home each year, having people around who understand how to administer CPR is critical.


Certification in AED means that a person is qualified to use an automated external defibrillator in an emergency to save a person experiencing cardiac arrest. The AED delivers an electrical shock to bring a heart back to an appropriate rhythm. An AED is usually portable, and you may find these devices on airplanes, in schools, and at shopping centers. These life-saving machines save around 1700 lives every year.

When certified to use an AED, a person will know how to assess the situation, remain calm, and operate the device until medical help arrives.

First Aid

There are three areas taught in first aid certification, and they are to preserve life, prevent a condition from becoming worse, and promote healing. Once certified, a person can assess and help with several situations, including breathing issues, bleeding, broken limbs, burns, and more. This education focuses on how to control or lessen a situation until professional medical help arrives.

If you are considering obtaining one of the different life-saving certifications, decide which one is best for you or pursue one at a time until you have all three. Either way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you can step in when there is a medical emergency.