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Written by Randy Hulshizer

Several weeks ago, my wife and I signed up to renew our American Red Cross Adult and Pediatric First Aid, CPR, and AED certifications. It was the first time we tried the blended learning format, which includes an online, simulation-based learning experience and an in-person skills session. Since we had always taken the full classroom course previously, we weren’t sure we’d like the online session, but I have to say we really enjoyed it!

Chile Third Year Anniversary Earthquake Recovery 2013

February 19, 2013. Iloca, Chile. Marcelo Gonzalez, a Chilean Red Cross volunteer, demonstrates CPR to a Community-based First Aid & Health workshop in Iloca, Chile. Photo by Brian Cruickshank/American Red Cross

The online session took about two and a half hours, and it was fun–like playing a game–even we were learning important things about serious situations. The simulation put us in “real world” situations and gave us the opportunity to apply our knowledge to various, potentially life threatening emergencies, such as choking, cardiac arrest, external bleeding, and shock.The flexibility of being able to complete the simulations at our own convenience was very nice, considering that it has often been difficult for us to find six hours or so to complete the full classroom course. Once we completed the online portion, we printed out our completion certificates and made our way to the skills session.

Our instructor for the skills session was personable and knowledgable, and he was a great teacher. He presented each skill, gave us an opportunity to practice, then evaluated each of us to be sure we could perform the skills in real world situations if the need ever arose. The session took only about an hour and half. It flew by as we practiced our critical life saving skills and had a great time doing it!

With that said, the blended learning experience might not work for everyone. For example, for someone who has never taken a first aid/CPR course before, the full classroom experience would likely be beneficial, since it gives the student more time to practice and ask questions. In addition, for those who are not comfortable learning online or through simulations, the classroom option is probably the best choice. But for those who have been trained before and simply need a skills refresher, the blended course is a great option!

Whichever course you think is right for you, don’t delay getting trained! Of course, we all hope we never have to perform CPR or use an AED, but if the situation does arise, and you’ve been properly trained, you just might be the one to save a life!

You can find convenient American Red Cross adult and pediatric first aid, CPR, and AED courses (classroom and blended options) in your area by navigating to http://www.redcross.org/ux/take-a-class.

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Dad and I circa 1983

There’s something special about a daughter’s relationship with her father. I speak from experience as I’m my father’s only daughter and I’ve also had the privilege of watching the relationships evolve between my husband and our two daughters.

My Dad meets his first Granddaughter for the first time. 9/9/09

My Dad meets his first granddaughter, 2009

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My Dad with his second granddaughter, 2014.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, as a mom and daughter… watching my dad with his granddaughters is also amazing.

Daddy knows all, can fix all and can explain all. This is an undeniable fact for daughters as lucky as me. My Dad was and is always there for me, especially in times of emergency. When I broke my big toe as a preschooler, Daddy was there to make it better and find a way to keep my plaster cast dry in the bath tub. When I fell and all but broke my nose at a neighbor’s house in kindergarten, Daddy arrived in the minivan to pick me up… complete with my brother blaring a vocal siren through the neighborhood. It was my Dad who taught me how to swim as a child, how to treat my chronic nosebleeds in middle school and later how to drive stick in a city full of hills. My Dad braided my hair, reattached Barbie’s limbs when they fell off, packed my lunches, participated in prom and wedding dress shopping, and wiped my tears… happy or sad. He patched me up when I needed it and even saved my life a few times with a swift back blow when I was choking.

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My high school graduation, 1996.

My Dad also taught me the importance of being prepared. As a family, we talked through emergency plans for escaping a fire in the house, how to deal with strangers and what to do if we became separated. My dad always has a flashlight handy and always made sure I had a quarter in my pocket for the payphone… just in case. It’s all part of the role Dad’s play in our lives.

They are our protectors, our planners, our role models, our rocks…. at least for me. As I think about all of the things my Dad has done and will do for me, I realize I’m looking to my husband to fill some big shoes as a Dad… and so far, he’s spilling over. I know he will look out for our girls just as my Dad has and will always for me. Already, he’s mastering the reattachment of Disney Princess limbs and the art of pig tails. He knows how to stop a tantrum and when one’s temperature needs to be checked. My girls’ Daddy has all the answers they need right now and I know they will look up to him as much as I look up to my Dad. I’m realizing, as Father’s Day approaches, that it’s never too late to make sure your Father, or the Father of your children is as prepared as they can be. I’m lucky to work with the American Red Cross where I’ve learned a lot about preparedness. I’ve been trained in first aid, CPR and know how to use an AED. I know what to do in the event of many emergencies… fire, weather or health related, but I’m not the only one who cares for my daughters. They deserve to have two parents prepared for anything. So, this year…. maybe my daughter’s gift to their Daddy is a gift that could save their lives, or mine. How about a CPR or First Aid class? Maybe a preparedness kit for the car or a fire extinguisher for the kitchen? Forget the ties this year and give your Dad, or the Father of your children a different kind of tool this Father’s Day.

My Husband with our daughters, 2012

My Husband with our daughters, 2012

 

Need more ideas? Here are 5 last minute Father’s Day gift ideas from the Red Cross.

 

 

As AmeriCorps National Preparedness & Response Corps (NPRC) members, we have had the opportunity to take a variety of American Red Cross training courses over the past few months. These trainings have given us the tools needed to prepare and respond to local and national disasters, and have helped us become a part of the Red Cross SEPA team!

One of my favorite trainings so far, was learning Client Casework. During this day long training session, we were able to learn how to properly carry out client services-skills we can apply to both local and national disasters.  Our team was able to conduct practice interviews, assess client needs and determine the appropriate assistance. This training was especially helpful to me during my first rotation at the Red Cross House. While at Red Cross House, I was able to implement client services at a local level by helping families get back on their feet following a disaster.

Becoming certified in driving and using the equipment on the Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) was another exciting AmeriCorps NPRC training. The Emergency Response Vehicles help the Red Cross respond to local and national disasters ranging from house fires to hurricanes. Learning how to properly operate and drive an ERV is an important part of being a Red Cross disaster volunteer. These vehicles are essential to disaster relief operations. ERVs are used to provide mobile or stationary feedings, distribute items, and, as necessary, perform casework and transfer supplies. To prepare us for safe ERV driving, we all completed an online defensive driving course before taking the road test. Members also learned how to safely handle and serve food that will be delivered to clients through an online training. I look forward to perhaps one day operating the ERV on a national deployment. We all passed the road test!

Our team also became CPR & First Aid certified through the American Red Cross. In addition to the classroom trainings, AmeriCorps NPRC members have the opportunity to sign up individually for American Red Cross trainings in areas we may wish to specialize in when responding to national disasters. I look forward to taking more training courses that will advance me in Client Casework, as I enjoy carrying out client services. Joining the Red Cross SEPA team has been an exciting opportunity and I look forward to taking more trainings in preparedness and response at the upcoming Pennsylvania Disaster Training Institute on October 25th-29th.

Pictured: (Left) Megan Wood and (Right) Jingwen Li taking the CPR Certification Test

               Pictured: (L) Megan Wood and (R) Jingwen Li taking the CPR Certification test