CPR and first aid courses offered at Recreation Center

CWU adapts to COVID-19 restrictions to continue providing life-saving courses

Nidia Torres, Staff Reporter

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 45% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was administered. A person not breathing or not breathing normally is a  scenario in which people should have the basic understanding of first aid and CPR training. These skill sets may have the chance to save a life in the end.

Coordinator for Indoor Operations and Camps and First Aid/CPR Instructor Alex Lee considers first aid and CPR training important. Contrary to what people might think, being certified in first aid and CPR is just as important during these times, according to Lee. 

“First aid gives you the basic skills to help someone who is in need,” Lee said. “CPR is extremely important for people to know even if they just know like hands-only CPR because CPR is really a lifesaving technique.”

CWU is currently only offering staff, faculty and students course training in these areas. The HeartSaver First Aid and CPR and the Basic Life Support (BLS) are set up through the American Heart Association, according to Lee. 

Senior Practical Nursing major Heather Powell is currently attending the Practical Nursing Program at Yakima Valley College. Powell herself is certified in first aid and CPR. She took BLS as well, which according to Lee, is a more advanced course training version of CPR.

Powell was required, as do all people working in healthcare, to take BLS for her program. She attended in-person classes in Yakima, and the first aid online.

These are two main courses taught at the Recreation Center. According to Lee, the CPR course can take up to two or three hours and the first aid course a maximum of three to four hours. 

“You watch the video, you learn skills, you practice your skills and then we actually test your skills to make sure that you have learned,” Lee said. 

The Recreation Center has had to update these courses for the safety of the public. They’ve implemented rules of social distancing and require anyone who attends to mask up. 

According to Lee, a big change they’ve had was the class size. A bigger room allows for better social and physical distancing. Their cleaning routines have been better structured to keep everyone safe. 

“Nobody shares any equipment during the class anymore. Everybody has their own equipment and then everything is cleaned before and after each use,” Lee said.

When Powell was enrolled in the CPR training course, she practiced CPR on mannequins. There they focused on mastering chest compressions. Similar to Lees’ courses, the methods of teaching had to be updated for people’s safety due to the pandemic.

“They aren’t really teaching breaths right now because of COVID-19, unless you have a specialized one-way valve mask that you can put a bag on it and then you can put the attached bad and give breaths that way,” Powell said.

In first aid classes, Powell learned the basic skills needed to take care of a person in an accident. 

“For first aid, we went over how to do bandages, where you would put a tourniquet if somebody had an open fracture or bleed,” Powell said. “Something that you couldn’t get stopped and I [also learned] how to manage an obstructed airway of an infant.”

Lee said that before the pandemic, a maximum of three attendees were assigned to one mannequin in his classes. But with the pandemic, changes had to be made to accommodate everyone and maintain their safety.

Lee recommends people get the course training and become certified. He said everyone can still be safe while practicing. 

“Just staying up to date with [the American Heart Association] updates is the best way to [see] what’s going on with the pandemic,” Lee said. “Nothing is changed in the sense of how you deliver CPR or how you provide first aid, other than making sure that you are always prepared and making sure that you have your mask and personal protective equipment and your gloves and maybe even some glasses.”

Powell said that even through these circumstances, there is still importance in having a basic understanding of first aid and CPR. 

To be on the safe side of things, Powell comes prepared and organized in case of an event that may require first aid or CPR. 

“I carry gloves and extra masks. I have these [face] shields in my car,” Powell said. “That way, if I come across somebody and I need to help them, I can add a little extra protection to myself to make sure that I don’t transmit anything to them, and they don’t to me as well.”

With Powell being a nurse, she said she also has an extra layer of protection because of the most recent vaccines given to healthcare workers. Powell considers herself lucky that she hasn’t had to use her skills yet. 

Lee, on the other hand, did have to implement what he learned to help someone in need.

Lee has aided many people in first aid, but has only had to rely on his knowledge in CPR once in his life. 

“I’ve dealt with a lot of different first aid situations. I have actually dealt with cardiac arrest as well,” Lee said. “I’ve been certified for, I think, 13 or 14 years now, and that’s the first and hopefully only time that I had to be a part of a situation like that. It’s definitely not a fun situation.”

According to the American Heart Association website, a person educated and trained in CPR can “double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest.”

The American Heart Association states that in one year, approximately 475,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest, a case when the heart stops beating. More than 350,000 cardiac arrest cases occur in areas that are not the hospital. The website states, “About 90 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die.” However, out-of-hospital bystander CPR can increase the chance of survival.

Both Lee and Powell understand the challenges this pandemic has on those learning first aid and CPR training. If the time comes when someone needs help, they recommend being prepared and staying safe. 

Staff, faculty and students are able to sign up to get CPR and first aid training and certification in the CWU Recreation Center or via their media, Central Washington University – Recreation.

“We’re just trying to give them the skills and the confidence to know that they can act, and that while it is a scary situation, that hopefully when they’re done with our courses, they have the skills necessary to act in that situation,” Lee said.