This quarter I’ve been tasked with writing about the importance of first-aid/CPR training. I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been a First Aid/CPR Instructor for over 20 years now. I enjoy knowing that there is a possibility I may have inadvertently helped save someone’s life by teaching a basic lesson sometime in my career. If there ever were a more poignant phrase than “knowing and not needing vs. needing and not knowing,” I don’t know it.

My wife, Melissa, is a cardiac cath lab nurse who spent half of her career in the emergency department. I’ve heard the stories, seen the outcome and learned the importance of heart health.

The history of life-saving activities is an interesting one and worth the research. A quick recap, however, is in order. Way back in the mid-1700s, about 400 or so people died in the canals of Amsterdam every year. As a result, a group of citizens formed the Society for Recovery of Drowned Persons, and they dedicated themselves to saving people from the canals. I love that.

Today we see drastic changes from those early days. We have mechanical help at our disposal, from machines that can monitor the heart rate and shock a victim when needed (AEDs) to those that do chest compressions for first responders during transport. Amazing! Our medicines help thin the blood and reduce cholesterol levels. We have medical procedures to remove plaque from arteries in outpatient settings. It truly is a great time to be alive (pun totally intended).

But even with these advances, we still need people to step up and help our fellow citizens. Time is critical when someone isn’t breathing.
I’ve come up with eight reasons why I think training in First Aid/CPR is important. I hope you agree.

  1. First Aid/CPR saves lives. What more is there to be said? I will say more, of course. When a person is in medical crisis, the early stage of stepping in to help may be what keeps that person alive.
  2. It prevents the situation from getting worse. One of the goals of a trained person is to provide temporary treatment until professional help arrives.
  3. It can help to relieve pain and/or discomfort. Placing an ice pack, a pillow or a rolled-up jacket in the right spot can really reduce pain.
  4. It is comforting. We all know what it feels like to know that someone cares about you. When a person demonstrates that caring by action, the comforting effect can be great.
  5. It promotes an attitude of safety. Once you start the process of taking a training class, you become more aware of what is happening around you from a perspective of safety. You begin to see situations and actions that are unsafe and risky. Hopefully, that will translate into your actions changing, as well.
  6. It has been estimated that 25% of ER visits could be avoided with the administering of basic First Aid/CPR. Often people will use the ER almost as their doctor. This drives the cost up for everyone.
  7. OSHA requires it: “In the absence of an infirmary, clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available. 29 CFR 1910.151(b).”
  8. We should want to help our fellow man/woman/person. This is maybe the most important.

If you’re unsure about whether you need to take a class yourself, or whether your cooperative or company needs to provide it for your employees, then I hope this article gives you some insight and influences your decision for the positive. I sincerely wish for each of you the healthiest 2020. I’m sure I’ll be seeing some of you at some point, but until then, stay safe.