By Gordon Williams

June 22, 2018. Washington, DC. CPR stock photos by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

March is National Red Cross Month, and it’s also the perfect time to learn new skills — maybe even save a life — by signing up for one of the dozens of classes the Red Cross teaches.

There are a variety of classes available, from first aid and water safety to cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and childcare. You can take a class in first aid for cats and dogs, even classes on how to help someone experiencing a severe allergic reaction or an opioid overdose.

Some of the Red Cross classes are offered face-to-face in classrooms, taught by trained instructors, but several of the classes can be taken online. Many of the courses are blended, meaning you take the course online at your convenience, but then meet face-to-face with your instructor to test and certify your skills.

Adding certification in a lifesaving skill could help you extend your career or launch a new one. It might even be a requirement of the job you hold now. However, even if your job doesn’t require certification in a lifesaving skill, there are many potential benefits to Red Cross training. 

“Emergencies happen every day,” says Michele Roth, executive director of the Red Cross Central and Southeastern Washington chapter, headquartered in Kennewick. “Red Cross training can prepare you to act confidently during these events and save lives.”

Click here to sign up for a class today!

Megan Elliott with Red Cross Training Services explains that your motivation for taking the course will often determine how you’ll want to take the course. If your primary goal is to gain lifesaving knowledge and skills, Elliott says, then you can typically achieve what you hope to accomplish through an online course.

The average in-person course will take about five hours, says Elliott, while an online course might run three hours. A blended course might take two hours online and another 90 minutes for face-to-face testing. Elliott says all the Red Cross classes cost $100 or less, with many of the online classes available for around $30.

For your first step in building a Red Cross education, you might consider the “Big Three” of lifesaving — first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillation (AED). 

“First aid, CPR and AED cover the most commonly encountered situations,” Elliott says. “You will be trained in what to do before Emergency Medical Services arrives.”

And once you have completed the basic courses, you can move on to more specialized training. Beyond the basic first aid course, for example, there is also an online course in First Aid for Severe Bleeding. You can also take courses to learn how to care for a person having a severe allergic reaction or an opioid overdose, brush up on water safety training (for free), or even take the Red Cross Babysitting Basics course recommended for teens.

Even that doesn’t cover the full range of Red Cross courses. There is, for instance, that online course in Cat and Dog First Aid. That course includes general pet care advice, but also how to handle the most common pet health emergencies.

There is no “best age” for taking a Red Cross class. Medical emergencies such as a broken bone or a serious cut can happen to anyone, young or old. Knowing how to react to sudden cardiac arrest could be a lifesaver if you are yourself old or watch over someone who is old.

“The number of grandparents raising grandchildren is growing,” says Roth of the Kennewick chapter. “First aid, CPR and Caregiving are just three options to prepare grandparents to act when it matters most.”

Interested in learning more about courses available to you through the Red Cross? Just click here to find options near you. It’s always the right time to learn a lifesaving skill. You never know when those skills could save a life.

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