Be My Valentine – I Could Save Your Life!

By Rena Large, Volunteer, Citizen CPR Leader

With Valentine’s Day approaching, who isn’t thinking about people they love and the things we do to show them we care?

Maybe it’s not exactly what you had in mind, but one thing I do for the people I love is staying up to date on my CPR and First Aid certification. In my earlier years it was sometimes a requirement – as a babysitter, a camp counselor, a life guard – and later it seemed like a good idea as someone who cared for friends and family members and likes to be prepared for anything.

First Aid for Cleveland

Graphic provided by Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross Volunteer

Speaking of hearts…We all probably know someone who has had a cardiac emergency (maybe even witnessed it happen). Most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes, and CPR – especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest – can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. That’s one of the reasons I love Citizen CPR – a free non-certification program that teaches untrained bystanders to perform hands-only compressions, a simple skill that can keep vital blood and oxygen flowing in a cardiac emergency until trained responders arrive. Performing hands-only compressions is easy to remember and doesn’t require mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths or certification (something that deters some people) – all it requires is willingness to act!

Volunteer Citizen CPR Instructor Rena Large teaches MetroHealth employees lifesaving skills.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Being a volunteer Citizen CPR instructor in my community is one of the most rewarding things I do. Sometimes people are nervous about the idea – I always hear stories of people witnessing someone having a heart attack at a family reunion or work event and being afraid they will do something wrong if they try to help. Giving them the opportunity to see the skill and practice it takes the mystery away and gives people the confidence that they can do this in an emergency. It means so much to me that I know and can teach others how to save a life. If you aren’t CPR certified, take a moment to learn how to do hands-only compressions; or think about offering a Citizen CPR event in your community or workplace. It might be the most important gift you give this Valentine’s Day and all year long.

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