HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 19, 2018) -- Twelve Huntsville Center employees completed their certifications for first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator operation during a March 1 session at the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville.

The Huntsville Center Safety Office organized the training and certification through the American Red Cross. According to Wanda Griffin, safety technician with the Safety Office, a series of certifications is scheduled annually for the Center's first aid attendants.

"We have first aid attendants assigned on each floor and two in each suite to include the Bevill Center," said Griffin. "No other employees can register for this training unless they are a first aid attendant or a Safety Office employee."

Leading the training and certification was Red Cross instructor Victor Churchill, who has 22 years of experience teaching CPR and first aid.

Churchill, who is based in Birmingham, said he makes it an effort to relate his training to participants in a personal way. When he incorporates a scenario into his training, he most often describes the victim as someone the student knows.

"I always talk about the victim being a mom, grandma, baby, child -- someone like that -- so it makes it personal for them," Churchill said. "I really think they walk away with more of this stuff if they aren't detached from the information all day long, which isn't easy to do with these classes because it's a long day and, really, it's not the most comfortable subject in the world."

From his own perspective, though, Churchill does not need to rely on hypothetical examples. Not only does he have his own stories to draw from, he said the number of former students he has encountered with their own stories has been surprisingly high.

In fact, Churchill said he could spend eight hours recounting stories from former students in which they needed to use their first aid and CPR skills on strangers or loved ones.

Several years ago, Churchill ran into a former student at a supermarket who said he needed to use CPR on his own wife -- twice. The first time, the student froze and panicked for a moment until he was able to hear Churchill's voice in his mind leading him through the steps.

"I didn't anticipate people coming up to me after class and doing that," he said. "I guess in the back of my mind I knew that sooner or later somebody in class was going to have to use something they learned in class. That's part of the reason I do stuff the way I do, but I just didn't think that I would get the feedback from them."

Until students need to use their skills in the real world, Churchill said, in general, they do not seem to appreciate the very real possibility that someone will need their help.

"Most people walk around with the idea that if something goes wrong, all they're really going to have to do is call 911," he said. "I don't think their posture is, 'I don't need it,' or, 'It's not important'; I think it's more like, 'I'm not going to have to do it because it's not going to happen to me, or somebody else is going to come to the rescue.'"

For medical emergencies for anyone at Huntsville Center, Griffin advises taking the following steps:
- Dial 911,
- Notify your nearest first aid attendant,
- Alert the on-duty security guard to prepare for the arrival of an emergency vehicle,
- Arrange to escort the emergency responders to the person in need of help,
- Contact the Safety Office to notify them of the situation.

These instructions, which includes a list of first aid attendants and their contact information, are located between the main restroom entrances on each level. Also at each of those locations is an automated external defibrillator, or AED, in a wall-mounted cabinet. Griffin added that each first aid attendant maintains first aid supplies, as does the Safety Office.

Although this training was only open to first aid attendants and Safety Office employees, the Red Cross offers a continuous rotation of courses and certifications throughout the U.S. for members of the public -- including the course Churchill provided. Learn more and sign up by visiting www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

Griffin added that, for government employees who need first aid and/or CPR training to perform site visits on their jobs, the training can be scheduled and paid for by their organization.

To learn more about first aid and CPR training, or about medical emergency procedures, call your local safety office.