Hazel Park firefighter Derek Hoffman holds an automatic external defibrillator, or AED. Both the Hazel Park Fire Department and neighboring Madison Heights Fire Department offer classes on first aid that include AED use, CPR and more, available for public groups upon request.

Hazel Park firefighter Derek Hoffman holds an automatic external defibrillator, or AED. Both the Hazel Park Fire Department and neighboring Madison Heights Fire Department offer classes on first aid that include AED use, CPR and more, available for public groups upon request.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Safety professionals encourage residents to receive first aid training

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 26, 2022

MADISON HEIGHTS/HAZEL PARK — You never know when you may encounter someone choking or experiencing cardiac arrest. In that moment, knowing what to do can save a life. 

That’s why local Fire Departments and the American Red Cross offer classes on techniques like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, and how to use automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs.  

The Hazel Park Fire Department, located at 22830 Russell Ave., offers first aid courses at the request of public groups. To arrange a class, call the non-emergency line at (248) 546-4086. 

Likewise, the Madison Heights Fire Department offers first aid programs to interested parties. These take place in the large training room at Fire Station No. 1, located at 31313 Brush St. Call the station at (248) 588-3605 to learn more. 

“CPR saves lives. It is a very basic skill that just about anyone can do. It’s a skill that doctors, EMS providers and other medical professionals use,” said Jeffrey Woodcock, the fire marshal and EMS coordinator for the Hazel Park Fire Department, in an email. 

“The second a person becomes unresponsive due to a cardiac arrest, heart and brain tissue can become damaged due to their heart not pumping correctly, or at all. The heart pumps oxygenated blood to these cells to keep them alive,” he said. “When the heart is not beating, oxygen is not being delivered to these cells, and the tissue starts to die.”

CPR doesn’t need to involve mouth-to-mouth contact, either. Bystander CPR, which is the kind taught at many first aid classes, involves chest compressions, where the springiness of the compression for the heart also opens up the lungs so that they can begin receiving more air. 

“If CPR is started immediately, blood flow will continue uninterrupted from doing chest compressions, and the likelihood of tissue damage and death are greatly reduced,” Woodcock said. “Learning these skills could help you save a life.” 

Regarding AEDs, Woodcock said they’re located in most public buildings, readily available for emergency use.

“AEDs are very simple to use,” Woodcock said. “Just push the power button and follow the voice prompts. AEDs can correct irregular heart rhythms that will quickly cause death if not treated.” 

Jason Seitz, the fire lieutenant at the Madison Heights Fire Department, said that his department has trained businesses and other groups on first aid techniques for years. 

“Typically, local businesses or organizations will seek us out to receive training on civilian life-saving skills,” Seitz said. “I cannot stress the importance of citizens educating themselves on these things enough. Many studies have shown that once the heart stops, every minute that goes by decreases your chance of resuscitation by around 10%. I ask students all the time to think about adding up the minutes in an average call. How many minutes does it take to relay information of where you are and what happened to the 911 dispatcher? My department averages around a four-minute response time once the call is dispatched. That is incredibly fast — but how long was that heart sitting before my team was alerted and can get there and start compressions?”

He said that early recognition of a problem, and knowing how to respond, will save lives. 

“With early on-scene compressions, you can drastically change the outcome of a patient. Instant, simple actions often makes the difference in the most dire of situations,” Seitz said. “Pressing on a chest in a patient with no pulse, tying off a tourniquet on someone who is bleeding profusely from an extremity, administering the Heimlich on a choking victim, and maybe most of all, recognizing an emergency when you see one are all critical skills that everyone can quickly master and apply.

“My team is ready for you in your time of need. We’re standing by for you right now. But you have to take advantage of being the first person on the scene,” he said. “You can help us save that person’s life.” 

Courses in first aid are also available through the American Red Cross. 

“Accidents happen, which is why it’s critical to be prepared — to help yourself, your family members or your neighbors,” said Meghan Lehman, regional communications director for the American Red Cross Michigan Region, via email. “Red Cross encourages everyone to learn first aid, CPR and how to use an AED, so they’ll have the knowledge and confidence to act in an emergency.”

Courses are offered both in-person and online. Registration is at redcross.org/takeaclass.

“We empower people to learn skills and use them to save lives in emergencies. The Red Cross has been creating courses and training people in first aid for more than 100 years,” Lehman said.

She noted that on average, more than 4.5 million people a year receive Red Cross training in first aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives, and that in 2020, her organization honored more than 500 individuals for their efforts to save or sustain a life. Lehman said that if you know someone who helped save or sustain a life, you can nominate them for the Red Cross National Lifesaving Award at lifesavingawards.org. 

Lehman said that accidents and emergencies can happen to anyone, anytime, so everyone is encouraged to learn first aid, CPR, and how to use an AED. 

“Every second counts, so people need to know what to do until medical help arrives,” she said. 

To that end, the Red Cross offers a variety of online, in-class and blended courses with both online content and in-person skills training. Course participants learn how to perform CPR, how to help someone who is choking, how to control bleeding, how to treat someone having a heart attack, and more. Onsite training is also available for groups, and an organization can have someone become a certified instructor to train their colleagues.

Lehman also said that the Red Cross offers courses tailored to current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the national opioid crisis. There are two online courses focused on returning to work and psychological first aid during COVID-19. There is also “First Aid for Opioid Overdoses” — an online course to teach people how to respond to a known or suspected opioid overdose — and the Red Cross Resuscitation Suite, which offers courses in Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support to help healthcare, EMS and other public safety professionals meet certification and licensing requirements. 

The Red Cross even offers an online course for administering first aid to cats and dogs, complete with a related smartphone app. And speaking of apps, the Red Cross also has a general first aid app for instant access to expert guidance on what to do in a variety of emergencies. First aid kits and emergency supplies are also available through the Red Cross’s online store.

The Red Cross responds to an average of 60,000 disasters every year, and in Michigan alone, the Red Cross responds to an average of more than 1,500 home fires each year. The Red Cross is also always in need of blood donations — those interested in giving can visit redcross.org.  

“We have a long history of empowering people to save lives,” Lehman said, “and we continue to address today’s urgent needs with new programs and resources.”