Thursday, April 25, 2013

Volunteer Instructor Teaches Life-Saving Skills

Red Cross volunteer instructor Bob Dawson teaches First Aid, CPR and AED once a month at the Louisville Area Chapter. His most recent class took place last Tuesday, just one day after the Boston Marathon. While features on those who lost their lives in the explosions and reports of potential suspects flooded news broadcasts, another story crept into the spotlight. The first responders and law enforcement officials who acted quickly to help those injured. Trained officials were joined by everyday bystanders who rushed to help.

Bob has been teaching everyday people or “lay responders” as we call them at the Red Cross, since 1998 when he retired from LG&E. As a safety specialist, his job was to reinforce rules and regulations, but his ultimate goal was to motivate people to take charge of their own safety, much like he does now at the Red Cross.

“When we teach people to do First Aid and CPR, we encourage them to take charge of a scene—to step up and do something,” Bob said.

In all his years of being certified, Bob has never had to use CPR in his personal life but he knows that he could if needed. Even while working for LG&E, he was fortunate to not encounter a catastrophic injury. He attributes this to the availability of improved safety equipment and the fact that people are better informed and trained.

“The more people trained, the better chance everyone has to survive an incident,” he said. “There is a better chance of the emergency being recognized and care being given until EMS arrives. I think it saves lives.”

The Red Cross offers a variety of courses at various times during the week and on weekends making it easy for people to enroll or even teach as Bob does. Once monthly class schedules are released, he can choose which courses he is available to instruct based on his personal schedule.
 “When we teach people to do First Aid and CPR, we encourage them to take charge of a scene—to step up and do something.”
 As a retiree, Bob says volunteering offers personal fulfillment and helps give structure to his life. He recommends the role to others with a background in safety.

“If you’re going to be retired, you need to stay active,” he said. “One thing you can do is give back.”

Bob also enjoys having an opportunity to meet new people and learn from his students. He encourages them to ask questions and share personal experiences of instances when they needed to use First Aid, CPR or AED skills.

 “I’ve always enjoyed training,” Bob said. “It’s fun. When it stops being fun, I’ll stop doing it.”

To become a volunteer instructor, you need to be currently certified in First Aid, CPR and AED—adult and pediatric and complete a two-day Red Cross instructor course. Instructor training is offered at the Louisville Area Chapter every other month and in Lexington and Elizabethtown on the months in between. At the end of the course, participants take an exam to acquire Red Cross instructor certification. The cost of the course is $500, a fee that can be waived if a volunteer commits to teaching one class per month.

The next instructor training course is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on May 9-10 at the Louisville Area Chapter. To register or to learn more, visit