CPR Classes Do More Than Save Lives

People who could not otherwise afford certification now have the experience and paperwork necessary to qualify for jobs.

When the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living began offering free CPR and First Aid classes last summer, Hoag officials anticipated that the program would save lives. What they didn’t realize is how CPR certification would improve lives, too.

By offering free CPR and First Aid certification courses, the Center for Healthy Living has created job opportunities for people in the low-income community it serves. People who could not otherwise afford certification, now have the paperwork and experience they needed to qualify for competitive positions at child care agencies and with other employers.

“We knew there would be people coming out because they had young children. What we did not anticipate was the interest from a flux of people who were being asked for certifications for employment that they didn’t have the means to get,” said Michaell Rose, director of Community

Health Programs. “When we started the program, we thought we’d offer it once or twice. It turned out to be a wonderful resource for the community.”

Since training began last summer, the CPR and First Aid classes have taught 194 people, including some of the staff at Hoag’s partner organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters,

Children’s Bureau and Girls, Inc. More courses are being added to keep up with demand.

The courses are taught by Emergency Training Programs, an Aliso Viejo-based company run by

Robert Pryce. Pryce said that what distinguishes the Center’s offerings from other programs in the community is not only the immense interest, but the conscious effort Hoag has made to offer classes in Spanish.

“I don’t think anyone else is reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community like Hoag,” Pryce said. “You’ll hear the local fire department in this city that is offering a class or two. But Hoag has made a deliberate effort to reach out to the community.”

Pryce said he enjoys teaching students like the ones at the Center who are hungry for the information. When he taught volunteers and employees of Hoag’s partner agencies, he found everyone engaged and appreciative.

“I asked them, ‘Tell me if you had any training in the past,’ and most people were either first-timers or hadn’t had training in years,” Pryce said. “Those are my favorite classes to teach, because what we do in those first few minutes makes the biggest impact on survival. We now have this whole new crop of responders, and that feels good.”