Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 242 - Getting CPR/AED Certified

I have never been CPR and AED certified. Although I have never had a real desire to receive such a certification, the important, life-saving techniques taught in CPR/AED certification courses made me think taking time to learn the skills would be a good use of my time. As a result, I began investigating options for receiving CPR/AED certification as a part of my new experiences during my “I have never...” year. In a city like Madison, where the medical field has dominating presence in the community, my research into the topic showed there are several options for obtaining such a certification in and around the city I call home. As a result, I started narrowing down potential options for certification that would fit into my schedule of new experiences, which ultimately led me to sign up for a CPR/AED certification course at the American Red Cross headquarters in Madison scheduled for this evening. In what I knew would be an evening full of learning, I prepared myself for an experience that could, in the most literal sense, have life altering effects.

The local chapter

When I arrived at the Red Cross this evening, I found my way to the training room and grabbed seat near the center of the room. As the first student to arrive, I sat down and quietly prepared for the class. Throughout the room CPR materials, dummies, and training AEDs lined tables and open floor space. After taking a few moments to look over the array of supplies in the space around me, I turned toward a pair of instructors near the front of the room who were busying themselves with class preparations. Acknowledging my presence, the two of them were quick to offer introductions, “Hello, I’m Eva, and this is Ruth,” one of the women said with a smile. I responded by offering my name in kind before we casually discussed my reason for attending the class and their backgrounds as Red Cross volunteers.

Arriving early... The classroom

As we spoke, a few more members of the class trickled into the seats around me until the open spaces at the training desk were mostly filled. Eventually, that caused Eva to take to the front of the class and begin the training session. After walking through a basic outline of the course, Eva explained the information we would learn throughout the course of the evening would help us potentially save a life if we ever found ourselves in circumstances where people needed immediate life-saving medical care. The point was reinforced by a personal story Eva shared with the group about her encounter with a man that had a heart attack at a sporting event she attended. She stated her training prepared her to stay calm and address the man’s ailments as necessary, which left a lasting impact that carried through the remainder of the evening.

Over the course of the next three hours, Eva and Ruth walked the class through the processes for identifying a person in need, applying basic care to individuals suffering from sudden, life threatening ailments, how to apply CPR as necessary, and how to operate and apply an AED system. Between each session of the training Eva and Ruth had us practice examples of each process with partners, which included hands on action for managing victims and applying each technique. Working with my partner, a man named Zak, we applied each lesson as instructed until we reached our lesson on CPR. A detailed explanation of the process proceeded practice on CPR dummies, which required application of all previous lessons in one extended session.

My materials

Doing our best to remember the prior training, Zak and I worked through the “check, call, care” cycle we had been taught and worked through the CPR process on our practice dummies. Although the steps were relatively straightforward, Zak and I initially struggled to consistently apply each of the steps in the process leading up to the application of CPR. With a little teamwork and guidance we quickly addressed these areas, and with a little more practice we were successful in our technique.   With the rest of the class on par with our progress, Eva and Ruth added the use of an AED device to our practice, which provided a seamless transition into the concept of two person care. Zak and I worked diligently with each new practice, applying each step of our training as we worked on the lifeless dummy lying before us. Eventually, that led us into our final practice based on a scenario called out by Ruth, which Zak and I handily addressed with the faultless application of each technique we had learned during the length of the course.

Pumpin' it

Getting my card

Following our final practice, Ruth and Eva drew the class to a close with a brief recap and some final perspective on the importance of the techniques we had learned during our CPR/AED course. Given the nature of the material and the life changing examples of CPR successes we had heard throughout the evening, their message was not lost on me. Although I hope I never have to apply the techniques I learned tonight, the knowledge I obtained from today’s “I have never...” experience gave me a powerful skill that just may help me save a life if I ever encounter such a scenario. That fact carries a lot of meaning and impact, and it makes me feel more prepared for the unknown than I did before today. From that, I can readily conclude taking the time to get my first CPR/AED certification was time well spent; even if it means I am lucky enough to never have to use it.


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