February is National Heart Month: Learn to Save Lives

By: Sophie Kluthe

When I walked into the Red Cross Eastern PA Headquarters for my First Aid class that day, I thought I knew what to expect; all Red Cross employees are required to be certified in First Aid. What I didn’t expect was the cross-section of people I would meet from different lines of work, and the many reasons they had for signing up.

In the row behind me was the new owner of a fitness center. He wanted CPR skills, he said, so he could step up if there were ever an emergency at his facility. Across the room was a childcare professional who wanted to best serve the kids in her care. There was even a guy who needed CPR certification to be a card dealer at a casino. (Who knew?) The knowledge we acquired would help us help others in the workplace—but that’s not where it ends. The fact is, we’d be safeguarding everyone in our personal orbit.

The best time to sign up for a First Aid class is yesterday, of course. But the second best time is now, during National Heart Month. You’ll learn to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator, or AED—a huge lifesaver in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, which claims thousands of lives a year. 

Our teacher that day was Wereuche Nze, a licensed training provider with the American Red Cross. “I have a passion for teaching and anything to do with health-saving measures,” she says. “I love what I do.” 

Wereuche Nze, a
licensed training provider with the American Red Cross.

Many who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital, I learned. Every second counts. Every minute without defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival. That fact is a huge motivating force behind Nze’s dedication to teaching lifesaving skills. “I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s very important for everyone to take the training,” she says.

Having training means you could be the person who makes the life-and-death difference—whether it’s for a client, a loved one, or even a stranger on the street. It’s not something you’ll do often, but recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest is critical. Time is of the essence: “It takes only a few minutes for brain death to occur,” Nze says.

With American Red Cross training courses, you can earn the knowledge and skills to deal with an emergency. A variety of options are available; in-person classes are held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. You can also opt for online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning. Several courses are OSHA compliant, so if you need the training to fulfill a job requirement, check with your employer to determine which class you need.  In the meantime, download the free Red Cross First Aid App to have instant information on handling the most common first-aid emergencies—including sudden cardiac arrest—at your fingertips.

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