YMCA classes seek to provide a safer community

Life-threatening emergencies can happen to anyone, anywhere and at anytime.

That sobering fact has been the driving force behind a two-year partnership between the American Red Cross and the Morrison Family YMCA that seeks to better equip community members to handle situations where someone’s life is in danger.

Morrison offers classes twice a month that provide full certification for adult, child and infant CPR, as well as certifications in first aid and automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. Classes typically take place the second and fourth Saturday of the month at the YMCA’s Corporate Wellness Center, 15830 John J. Delaney Drive. Classes cost $70 per person and are open to both YMCA members and nonmembers.

“We have been offering these classes for about two years,” Lisa Johnson, corporate health director for the YMCA, said. “They are American Red Cross classes, so they come with a lot of respect, a lot of credibility within the community.”

Classes typically start at 9 a.m. and continue until about 3 p.m., with a short break for lunch, Johnson said. During the six-hour sessions, students learn from two instructors about first aid; CPR for adults, children and infants; how to operate AEDs; the Heimlich maneuver and more. Students have the opportunity to practice chest compressions and test their skills on mannequins during the hands-on activities, which are “sprinkled throughout the class,” mixed with lecture talks and informative videos, Johnson said.

“It’s interactive throughout the day – it kind of breaks up the lectures and videos” to keep people engaged, she said.

Students complete a practical assessment and a test at the end of the course in order to earn their certification, which is good for two years.

“Rarely does anybody fail,” Johnson said of the test and assessment. “Instructors spend a lot of time (with the students) and do a lot of repetition, so by the time you get to the assessment portion of the day, everybody has a strong skill.”

The classes were launched two years ago due to a need YMCA leaders recognized within the community. Each YMCA staff member is required to earn certifications in CPR, AED and first aid, Johnson said, and the organization wanted to offer the same opportunities to community members.

“We could see the (benefits) internally and wanted to be able to offer that externally,” Johnson said.

People as young as 15 can take the classes, which Johnson said is an ideal opportunity for teens interested in babysitting because of the child and infant CPR certifications the class awards. The classes, limited to 10 people, also attract health-care workers who need to renew their certification, new parents, first responders in corporations and lifeguards.

“We really have a diverse group of people coming from all types of backgrounds,” Johnson said, adding classes are often filled to capacity.

The YMCA also works with corporations who want to provide certification to their employees. Rather than requiring employees come on an evening or Saturday, the organization works with interested corporations to provide the training at the companies’ locations during normal weekday hours.

“We do get calls from corporations who need to certify safety ambassadors,” Johnson said. “We’ll do custom dates for companies, as well, and go on site with our instructors … We can certify employees (at their workplaces) and do it during the

The certification program has grown since its inception, Johnson said, expanding to offer classes twice a month as opposed to its original schedule of once a month. The YMCA’s goal for the program is simply to continue growing and promoting safety within the community, she said.

“We offer all of (the certifications) because we feel very strongly we want people to have the skill set to respond to anyone, regardless of age,” Johnson said. “You just never know what you’re going to encounter.”

Upcoming classes are scheduled for Feb. 8 and 22, March 8 and 22 and April 12 and 26. Find more information, including dates of future sessions, at www.ymcacharlotte.org/branches/morrison/healthyliving/healthwellbeingfitness/healthylife
styles/cpr.aspx, or call the Corporate Wellness Center at 704-716-8300.


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