CPR/first aid important skill for all

It can happen anytime, anywhere. A loved one, or even a stranger, could loose consciousness, have a heart attack or choke.


Yet, for those with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills, such an event can be less of a scary situation.

Laura Spano, Alaska’s regional communications officer for the American Red Cross, said CPR is an important skill in any facet of life, work and play.

“CRP/First Aid and those life saving skills are great for anybody to have,” Spano said.

According to the American Red Cross website, on April 22 at the Trading Bay Production Facility, on the west side of Cook Inlet, Hilcorp lead operator Eric Braun was alerted of a situation. When he arrived on scene he immediately called 911 to report a contractor who was showing signs consistent with a heart attack. The contractors condition worsened quickly and he soon lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

Braun enlisted the help of Hilcorp employees John Wolfe and Scott Derleth.

The team started CPR until the automatic external defibrillator (AED) could be activated. CPR was continued until the contractor started to breathe on his own again. Paramedics had been updated on his condition over the radio and arrived via helicopter shortly after he was revived. He was flown 72 miles to Anchorage for treatment and was reported in stable condition the next morning. The American Red Cross honored the men who administered CPR.

In an email, Braun said that Wolfe was the only one of the three with current CPR training, however he and Derleth had past training.

“The training saved precious time when the patient went unconscious,” he wrote.

Knowledge of the use of AED also helped the team.

“The training is great, but if we didn’t have the AED, he may not have survived,” Braun wrote.

Wolfe, Hilcorp production operator, said his training helped him deal with the event.

“Though feeling very anxious as to what was happening, the knowledge and training allowed me to keep focused on what needed to be done,” Wolfe wrote about the event. “Knowledge of what to do cannot be emphasized enough. You easily may be the difference in whether a loved one makes it to advance medical care or not.”

Jim Vinson, a CPR instructor and Central Emergency Services paramedic, teaches CPR and first aid classes from his Soldotna home. He holds weekly classes for up to nine students, but will hold a class for one if it is needed.

“I customize classes to what my student is involved in,” he said.

Vinson certifies students who work in the health care field, fishing industry, law enforcement and more throughout the state.

Vinson uses his work and life experience to offer real-life scenarios and training. For Vinson, knowledge of CPR is imperative.

“I do CPR on a weekly basis,” he said.

Spano said the typical class for CPR/First Aid training is three hours and costs $90 for a two-year certification. Participants who attend receive basic knowledge of when and why to begin chest compressions, how to locate and use an AED and very basic first aid.

“You are learning to take care of injuries until first responders arrive,” she said. “It really helps your confidence so you know what to do when the time comes.”

Spano said CPR classes are geared toward anyone, whether they work outdoors, in an office or care for loved ones in a home setting.

“A lot of times people have high risk people at home. We want them to be prepared for anything,” she said.

“It is an important skill for anyone to have,” she said.

A CPR instructor-training course can also be obtained; the cost is $500. For more information visit the American Red Cross website.

Spano said that the American Red Cross also offers Safe Sitter babysitting and training courses for kids 11 and older. The class offers information on how to be safe, how to play with children of all ages safely, as well as CPR and first aid training.

“We want to offer it to kids that young,” she said. “We want to increase that confidence.”

For those worried about legal issues that may come from administering CPR, AED or first aid, Spano said the Good Samaritan Law is key.

“As for legal ramifications of rendering aid in an emergency — that’s covered in the Good Samaritan Law. All states have enacted Good Samaritan laws to protect people who are willing to provide emergency care to injured or ill persons without accepting anything in return (not part of their job). These laws, which differ from state to state, may protect you from legal liability as long as you do what a reasonable and prudent citizen responder would do, or trained to do,” she said.

According to cprinstructor.com, Alaska Good Samaritan Law states (a) a person at a hospital or any other location who renders emergency care or emergency counseling to an injured, ill or emotionally distraught person who reasonably appears to the person rendering the aid to be in immediate need of emergency and in order to avoid serious harm or death is not liable for civil damages as a result of an act or omission in rendering emergency aid. Also, (e) A person who uses an automated external defibrillator to treat another person in cardiac arrest is not liable for civil damages as a result of an act or omission in treating the other person if the person was properly trained to use the device and activates the emergency medical services system by notifying the appropriate emergency medical services agency.

Spano said for Alaskans, especially, having knowledge and certification of CPR and first aid in important for our varied lifestyles.

“We want people to be prepared,” she said. “Anything can happen anytime. It’s a skill that can save a life.”


Sara J. Hardan can be reached at sara.hardan@peninsulaclarion.com.