American Red Cross extends CPR certification period

Written by Pete Bach Post-Crescent staff writer

Marsha Schanke (left), of Appleton, participates in a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course Wednesday at the American Red Cross in Appleton. / Post-Crescent photo by Dan Powers

The American Red Cross has extended its CPR certification from one year to two, the biggest change in certification requirements in Red Cross history.

“It’s to encourage more community members to get certified and also to better serve our existing clients,” said Tony Gonzalez, executive director of the Outagamie County Red Cross chapter. “It also includes free digital materials, and because of those changes we’re able to contain costs and reduce costs to our customers.”

The new training format covers the 20-county Northeast Wisconsin Region of the American Red Cross, which includes a wide swath of the Fox Valley and beyond. The region trains about 56,000 people a year in various settings and situations.

Students who sign up for the lifesaving curriculum at the Red Cross include emergency personnel, corporations, health care providers, chiropractic and child caring institutions, industrial organizations, parents of young children and caregivers with responsibility for an elderly parent.

The certification change is sitting well with students.

“They’re very pleased,” said health and safety director Carrie Powell. “The courses are a little shorter. A person can take the complete class in about 6½ hours. Before, it would take them almost nine. It’s not a huge investment of time for the amount of information they walk away with.”

The new training format emphasizes skills and hands-on techniques needed to resuscitate an individual or use an AED — or automatic external defibrillator — to re-establish a healthy heart rhythm.

Students can take courses at the Outagamie chapter office at 1302 E. Wisconsin Ave., participate in a “blended learning” format that offers part of the course online and the skills portion at the chapter office, or in some case undergo training at the job site.

The charge for training ranges from $45 to $70.

Red Cross instructors are employed at the companies where they teach.

Bob Mayer of Appleton, one of the chapter’s volunteer instructors, has plenty of firsthand experience about the value of CPR and other life-saving measures.

Mayer, 53, has a background in the fire service and law enforcement, and served as an emergency medical technician in southern Wisconsin and Arkansas.

“When I worked for the fire department, I rode an ambulance. I can’t honestly say how many times I did CPR and revived someone with a combination of CPR and AED,” he said.

“I’m teaching others how to go out and save a life. And the more people we teach, the more lives we’re going to save,” Mayer said. “To me, it’s a blessing. It’s an opportunity I can touch who knows how many lives.”

Pete Bach: 920-993-1000, ext. 430, or pbach@postcrescent.com

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