It's not fun to think about emergencies. But as much as you hope they'll never happen, you do have to be prepared. CPR and first aid are things that everyone -- especially people who care for children -- should know.
You may not realize the importance of first aid or CPR certification until you're faced with a life-threatening situation. For some, an emergency may never occur and for others it may happen more than once. Whether you're a new parent, a senior care aide, a nanny or a budding babysitter, the value of CPR and first aid training is priceless in an emergency.
Understand the Benefits of CPR and First Aid
CPR and first aid training will teach you:
- How to check the scene of the emergency
- How to determine the needs of a victim
- When to call 911
- First aid skills for controlling bleeding and treating cuts, scrapes, bee stings, insect or snake bites, etc.
- The signs and symptoms of a heart attack, choking, etc.
- How to treat sudden illnesses
If you're a parent, you know that kids like to put anything and everything into their mouths -- from bugs to toys. And they're always getting new scrapes and cuts. First aid and CPR training can help prepare you for tackling these common childhood occurrences.
In addition, emergency training is a necessary skill for caregivers to have -- and it looks great on a resume! Businesses and families like to see it, as it means you're serious about taking care of others. If you have the training, mention it in your profile and job application.
Even better: Caregivers with first aid and CPR training are 2.5 times more likely to be contacted by families!
Find a CPR and First Aid Course
You can find either online or in-person courses all around you. Many local hospitals and community centers offer programs or can point you in the right direction. You can also find safety training courses through the websites of the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and the National Safety Council.
They offer are a variety of courses, aimed at helping both adult and child victims. There are classes ranging from a 30-minute citizen CPR session, to blended learning courses, to a full first aid, CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) course. The Red Cross even has a class called "Babysitter's Training and Pediatric First Aid/CPR", which prepares teen babysitters with these important skills.
Take a Refresher Class
After you take a class, make sure you receive a certification (most are good for two years) and ask about access to free digital skills refreshers.
"Of course it's important to become CPR and first aid certified, but it's equally vital to take refresher courses," says Don Lauritzen, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross. "You may have taken training years ago, but it's better to be up-to-date and confident in your skills in case of an emergency."
Evaluate the Time Commitment
The lengths of the different classes vary, but all are relatively short for the amount of potentially life-saving information conveyed.
"Courses typically run anywhere from three to five hours and can be done all in one shot or multiple sessions," Lauritzen says. Plus, you can usually find daytime, weeknight and weekend classes that can accommodate any schedule.
Assemble a First Aid Kit
Even if you haven't gotten trained in first aid yet, you should have a completely stocked first aid kit in your car, home, office and nanny bag. It's essential for any emergency -- from scraped knees to snake bites to car accidents and earthquakes. Your kit should include things like different size bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, hand sanitizer, gauze, scissors, etc. You can also purchase ready-made ones online.
In an emergency, dial 911 first. But you should also have the skills to detect, assess and treat victims until professional medical personnel arrive. It's an important ability that can save lives.
Jennifer Geisman is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. Her work can be found here.