I do if someone is choking, has a heart attack, or needs emergency
medical treatment?" Unfortunately, most tri-county residents don't know
the answer to that question.
The facts are sobering. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign,
choking is the leading cause of accidental death among children under
one year of age. Additionally, 850,000 Americans each year have heart
attacks. Finally, during a natural disaster when emergency personnel are
stretched to the limit (such as the 2002 tornado in La Plata), residents
will spend 24-72 hours waiting for emergency medical personnel to show
What to do? Taking a Red Cross training course will provide the
knowledge needed to survive any of these emergency situations.
"In the tri-county area 40 individuals per day, on any given day of the
year, are involved in a Red Cross community course," said Mike Zabko,
chief executive officer for the American Red Cross, Southern Maryland
Chapter. He contends that this number is dismal at best. "Our goal is to
have one person in each family qualified to perform in an emergency."
Welcome resident Kaye Risk went a step further. "I took the [CPR/First
Aid] course for my own knowledge and understanding," she said, "but when
my daughter was eight years old I had her take it too. I think it's
important for kids to know the basics in case something happens to you."
Zabko oversees Red Cross operations in Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's
counties. The central location is in La Plata, but the department has
branches in Patuxent River and Prince Frederick as well.
The most popular course offered is the Standard First Aid/CPR. This
eight-hour course covers recognizing and caring for injuries until
trained medical staff can take over. Participants learn how to handle
emergency situations. In addition to CPR techniques, students learn how
to care for victims of bleeding and choking. Once completed, the CPR
certification is good for a year and the first aid for three years. A
four-hour review course offers a refresher of the basic training.
Other courses include CPR and Automated External Defibrillation (AED)
for Professional Rescuer, Sport Safety Training, Bloodborne Pathogens
(preventing disease transmission), AED and Infant and Child CPR. Two
classes that are gaining popularity in the tri-county area are the Pet
First Aid and Babysitters Training.
Pet First Aid teaches participants how to handle choking and heart
attacks in animals. Pet owners learn how to respond to a wide range of
animal emergencies, from dressing a wound to performing CPR, to
preparing pets for natural disasters. Pet lovers also learn how to
monitor their furry companion's well being by learning the animal's
normal temperature, blood pressure and other health parameters.
The Babysitters Training course is for 11-15-year-olds. Zabko warns that
this class fills up quickly and often has a waiting list. Many parents
look for this certification when selecting a babysitter. This two-day
course covers Infant and Child CPR as well as training in care giving,
decision making, safety and first aid skills, and preventing and
responding to emergencies.
Course participants receive The Babysitter's Handbook, which provides a
course review and 30 easy-to-follow first aid action plans for handling
emergencies, as well as an Infant and Child CPR Skills card.
Training is conducted in many convenient sites throughout Southern
Maryland such as Calvert Memorial Hospital, the Leonardtown courthouse
and the St. Mary's County Regional Airport. In addition, businesses and
community organizations can sponsor trainings at their locations.
Hughesville resident Patty Williams and her husband owned a construction
company for many years. "All construction sites need at least one person
who is certified. We sponsored a CPR/First Aid class for all of our
employees. The Red Cross workers were great. They gave us all the time
we needed to practice and were very competent."
Payment and times vary depending on the course offered. To find out more
about classes offered in the tri-county area go to http://chapters.redcross.org/
md/charlescounty/classes.htm or use the contact information below.
There are no refunds and remember that class sizes are limited and may
fill up quickly. If you're considering a course, sign up early. If
you're still pondering the decision, Zabko has some final thoughts. "We
challenge everybody to take a CPR and First Aid Course. You could save a
life. Don't wait. If you're thinking about taking a class, do it."
Red Cross, Southern Maryland
9255 W & W Industrial Rd.
La Plata, MD
Phone: 301-934-2066, 1-888-276-4042
Contact: Mike Zabko, CEO Southern Maryland Chapter
22187 Arnold Circle, Bldg. 401
Patuxent River, MD 20670
Contact: Deanna Batt, Health & Safety Services
150 Main St., Suite 104
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
Contact: Alice Pitcher, Health & Safety Services