It says it comes in handy during emergencies.
The American Red Cross is urging more people to get first-aid training. Doug Lent, a spokesman for the Chesapeake Chapter, says many people who came to the scene during last week's explosions at the Boston Marathon and at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, were not just emergency medical technicians, but people who had first-aid training. "In Boston, as well as Texas, we saw first responders doing an amazing job, stepping up and helping people," he says. "But a lot of the help that came about was just from people who aren't fire fighters; who aren't first-responders. Just regular folks who are trained and know what to do. And that training literally helped save lives."
The two blasts in Boston during the Marathon killed three people, and injured more than 170. Authorities have found 12 bodies from the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. That death toll could go higher.
Lent says anyone can take a first-aid course at their local Red Cross chapter, or, for $30, can download it off of the internet. "Learn some basic skills how to identify medical emergencies, giving appropriate care for common first aid stuff. It's basically some help you need until more comprehensive help can arrive," he says.
The face-to-face first aid class offered by the Red Cross includes CPR training, and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator. Lent says AED's are common in a lot of public buildings, and are very easy to use. "As soon as you turn one on, a voice comes out of the box and starts to describe exactly where to place the pads, when to push the button and when to stand back," he says. "So anyone can do it an emergency." But the Red Cross says anyone using an AED should also have some training in CPR.
The Red Cross also has first-aid apps you can download to your I-phone.
While it's possible that some people who are trained may forget what to do during an actual emergency, Lent says that's very rare. "I've heard from a lot of our graduates that the skills kick right back in. Also, if you have your smart phone there and you've got the reminder with your first-aid app, that helps a lot too."
Lent says not enough citizens have first-aid knowledge, and the Red Cross hopes more will sign up for training. You can do that by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or go on line to www.redcross.org/takeclass.