The Language of Saving Lives

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“Teaching this class in (Spanish) has been a very humbling experience that needs to be extended to other bilingual communities interested in learning CPR,” Anthony Ferrer-Bethencourt

Thanks to contributors: Anna Hiatt, Nancy Waddell, Betsy Robertson

We know 88% of cardiac arrests happen in the home and only 6.4% of cardiac arrest victims survive. Those who survive often do so because someone witnessing the incident was capable of performing CPR.

Knowing how and when to administer chest compressions has the potential to save a life. But while the ability to learn these skills is universal, language barriers often get in the way of providing instruction to the community as a whole.

Lupe Hernandez, a bilingual Red Cross volunteer who teaches Spanish-speaking CPR in Wenatchee, agrees. “There is a large population of people here in Washington who are monolingual and don’t speak English as a primary language.”

The Red Cross recently had an opportunity to address this need west of the Cascade Mountains, in Snohomish County. Working in partnership with Edmonds Community College and Premera Blue Cross, a free course in “hands-only” CPR was offered in Spanish.

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Instructor Anthony Ferrer-Bethencourt is a bilingual instructor for the American Red Cross. His classes are most often taught in English, but he calls this Spanish CPR class “more than wonderful.”  Ferrer-Bethencourt remembers, “The enthusiasm shown by the Spanish students throughout the class to learn life-saving techniques was very exciting and energetically accelerating. The majority of the Spanish students expressed interest in attending additional training in CPR for infants, toddlers, and children when offered in Spanish by the American Red Cross.”

The benefits of knowing CPR transcend age, gender, location and culture. Anyone might need it and the Red Cross firmly believes everyone should know the steps to delivering CPR. Are you in a position to help us bridge the language gap?

The Red Cross is always looking for bilingual instructors as well as volunteers who might want to serve as disaster responders. If you would like more information or know others who qualify, please contact us at: http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.

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