Teaching skills that save livesPosted on by
We observed CPR and AED Awareness Week at the beginning of June. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Stacy Thorne, a health scientist in the Office of Smoking and Health, who is also a certified first aid, CPR and AED instructor.
Stacy has a history of involvement in emergency response and preparedness activities at CDC. She is part of the building evacuation team; a group of employees who make sure that staff gets out of the building in case of a fire; or shelters in place during a tornado. When she learned CDC offered CPR and AED training classes to employees, she couldn’t think of a better way to continue volunteering, while helping people prepare for emergencies.
Stacy became a CPR/AED instructor in 2012. She felt these were important skills to have and wanted to stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines. She said, “You have to get recertified every two years, so if I was going to have to take the class anyway why not teach and make sure other people have the skills to save a life.”
Practice makes perfect
Stacy teaches participants first aid, CPR, and AED skills and gives them an opportunity to practice their skills and make sure they are doing them correctly. The class covers first aid for a wide-variety of emergency situations, including stroke, heart attack, diabetes and heat exhaustion. Participants learn how to:
- Administer CPR, including the number of chest compressions and the number and timing of rescue breaths
- Use an Automated External Defibrillator, more commonly referred to as an AED, which can restore a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest.
- Splint a broken bone, administer an epinephrine pen for allergic reactions, and bandage cuts and wounds
In order to receive their certification, all participants must complete a skills test where they demonstrate that they can complete these life-saving skills in a series of scenarios.
Lifesaving skills in action
Stacy shared, “The most rewarding part of teaching is meeting the different people who come to take these classes and hearing the stories of how they have used their skills.” One of her students recalled how she used her CPR skills to save someone while she was out shopping. Her instincts kicked in and when she was able to get the person breathing again the people watching applauded.
Another student reflected, “While I hope I never am in a situation where I need to perform CPR, the notion that I am now equipped with these life-saving skills is reassuring and helps me feel prepared if I should find myself in that scenario.” Stories like these show how important it is for everyone to be trained in first aid, CPR, and how to use an AED. You can spend six hours in training, and walk out with a certification that can save someone’s life.
Always on alert
As the mother of a 6-year old daughter, Stacy is constantly on alert for situations where she might need to use her skills. The closest she has come to using her skills was when her daughter was eating goldfish crackers while laying down and started gagging; she was at the ready to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Her role as an instructor made Stacy feel confident that she could use her first aid, CPR, and AED skills in an emergency.