The American Red Cross says it will begin offering CPR, First Aid and AED training in Blanco County quarterly, as a result of increased local interest in taking the classes.
Ten residents turned out in Johnson City Saturday to spend all day learning to save the lives of family, friends and neighbors. The next class is tentatively scheduled for October in Blanco.
“We had a good turnout in Blanco last fall,” said ARC instructor Kim Porter of the Hill Country Chapter Kerrville, “and again this week in Johnson City. We think it shows enough demand here in the county to schedule classes more frequently, to get more people trained in life-saving skills.”
For its part, the ARC has placed a set of CPR training manikins in the county and has committed to train more local instructors, so classes can be set without having to accommodate out-of-towners’ schedules.
The current planning is to partner with local organizations interested in hosting a class, drawing students from the sponsor’s members plus other interested members of the community. A host might be a business, a club, a church or any other group interested in saving lives.
Saturday’s class, like the one last fall, was set up in cooperation with the Blanco County Disaster Response Group.
“This isn’t an outsiders’ program, coming into the county and telling us what we need to be doing,” said Blanco County Red Cross chair Martha Mason. “We locals have been pushing the ARC to expand its services here and they’ve shown they’re willing to provide as much as we’re willing to support.”
The first aid portion of the class was fun and the CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) portion was tricky, but it was the AED (automated external defibrillator) training that most surprised the students.
“That’s it? That’s all there is to it?”, exclaimed Sid Spiller, pastor of the First United Methodist Church, where the class took place. “That’s simple. There’s nothing to it!”
It was amazingly simple, but there was a lot to it, mostly done by the computer chip inside the laptop-sized device itself. When a heart’s rhythm is knocked out of control by a heart attack or electric shock, for example, the AED shocks it back into a normal pattern. On the television hospital shows, it involves hazardous jolts of electricity and requires significant medical skill.
The AEDs — which are increasingly common in government offices, schools and public buildings — have so simplified the process as to be almost foolproof. The device does all the analyzing and thinking, and literally tells the operator what to do and when to do it.
“The best thing about it is if you try to do it wrong, the AED knows it and tells you to fix it, and it won’t do anything else until you do,” Spiller added.