By Evan Peper

Photo by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

Over 500,000 cardiac arrests occur yearly, according to the Red Cross. It’s a worrying statistic and emphasizes the fact that you never quite know when a heart attack may strike or when an accident may occur that requires a restart of the heart.

That’s where the Red Cross and its team of certified instructors comes into play: to instruct the everyday person how to safely perform a potentially life-saving skill. Here in the Northwest region, the Red Cross has teamed with Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to provide this life-saving training to members of the military and their families at a discount.

Partnering with the American military is a special honor for the Red Cross, and one the organization doesn’t take lightly. According to Jason Matheney, Regional Director of the Northwest Region Service to the Armed Forces, “We are one of very few chartered programs with the department of defense where we provide supportive services to service members and their family throughout their entire military careers and continue to provide that support once they obtain their Veteran status.”

Specifically, for JBLM, these trainings have been organized to provide ease of access to members of the Armed Forces who normally would have to make the hour-long drive to downtown Seattle. Instead, these will take place in the heart of the base.

“​​The whole reason why we wanted to offer these [trainings] to the military community is to give them the convenience of getting or maintaining their certifications,” said Christie Merrill with Red Cross Training Services.

The training is open to all and can be beneficial in many ways. As Merrill says, “This is a great way to just quickly pop in for a couple hours and maintain or gain the certification needed for their [military community members] job training, this could support their recreational hobbies, or any education they are pursuing.”

This will be the third offering of the blended CPR and AED training course, but class sizes are limited due to Red Cross safety protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic. Class sizes have been capped at six participants.

In talking to Merrill, she would like to emphasize the safe practices that she employs while instructing, including making sure every student gets their own personal practice equipment and supplies throughout the class.

“If done correctly, which I pride myself on doing, that person should walk away feeling that they were in their own space throughout that classroom experience and that I’ve provided that classroom experience as safely as possible,” said Merrill.

Active military members, a family member of someone in the military, or anyone from the community that can access the Red Cross office on base is encouraged to participate.

The next available training takes place on February 25th at the Red Cross Headquarters on JBLM. Class times are from 9:00 am – 11:20 am and 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm.

Anyone interested in taking this course can register by clicking here. For additional information, please call (206) 920-6026.

Click here to learn more about Red Cross trainings and certifications available near you!

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