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Exploring the Decision to Respond...REALLY?

(Article from ECSI eNews: May 2013)

Bill Kimball, Founder/Owner, Safety Management & Response Training AssociatesFor those of us who are (or have been) both ECSI Education Center Coordinators and Emergency Responders, the sight of blood or other bodily fluids is commonplace, and taking action in ambiguous situations, sometimes at risk to ourselves, is merely a line or two of our job description. We accept these situations and learn to become comfortable with them in order to do our jobs. We utilize barrier protection as a matter of routine and, unlike the average citizen, are not usually queasy when it comes to touching icky stuff.

As responders, we've all seen it: you arrive on a scene where several concerned citizens are standing around gawking at the injured person – but few (if any) are actually taking action.

I believe people generally act in the best interest of others. So why is the average citizen reluctant to help? This question has been posed, discussed, researched, and written about time and again. Personally, I usually hear answers along the lines of the following:

  • “I didn't want to get sued.”
  • “I was afraid I'd mess something up and hurt them more.”
  • “I was afraid I'd catch a disease.”
  •  “They don't owe me money.”

Admittedly, that last one is a joke, but my point is clear: people are afraid of acting in these ambiguous situations. The desire to act must overcome that fear. Would-be responders need to have an acute sense that what they think they need to do is the right thing to do, and that it's relatively safe. For those of us who are presented with these situations every day, taking action is second nature – but that’s not true for those who aren’t.

It is incumbent upon as educators to provide a full picture to our students. They need more than just a bulleted list of steps to take at a scene. While there are indeed reasons not to respond in certain situations (for example, if the scene is unsafe), it is up to us as educators to clarify the line between informed discretion and irrational fear. It is essential that our students know when to respond and when not to respond, how to avoid causing more harm, and the realities of disease transmission. 

I tackle these issues in courses I teach by turning to the snarky Saturday Night Live’s skit: “Weekend Update: Really? With Seth and Amy."

In class, I might ask: “Name one reason you wouldn't take action to assist an injured person.” 

Student response: “I didn't want to get sued.”
Me: “Really?”

Is it possible for you to have to answer for the care you have rendered? Sure – but you'd have to be deemed grossly negligent in your actions for this to happen. What's the best way to ensure that you don’t find yourself in this situation? Take a class (CPR, First Aid, etc.) and re-certify yourself as required. The truth is you're more likely to be sued for rear-ending the car in front of you while looking away from the road than you are for offering first aid assistance.

Less Stress Instructional Services, an ECSI Education Center, posted a helpful listing of all statewide Good Samaritan Laws. While there are state-by-state variances in these laws, there are three common themes:                                                                                                                                          

  1. You possessed no “duty to act” (in other words, weren’t responding as a professional rescuer and expected no compensation).
  2. The action you took is the same that a reasonable and prudent person would have taken (in other words, you were not grossly negligent in your actions).
  3. Once you began rendering care, you remained with the individual (provided your personal safety was assured) until the professional rescuers arrived.

Student response: “I was afraid I'd mess something up and hurt them more.”
Me: “Seriously?”

I remember when CPR practically required a mechanical engineering degree to perform correctly. I think you had to perform 15 compressions unless another person was there (then you had to tap dance on one foot while singing “Stayin' Alive” by the Bee Gee's...). Kidding aside, CPR used to be a complex series of steps and substeps. As we've learned over the years, however, just about any form of compressions (hands only, two-rescuer, etc) will yield some kind of a result. Unless the scene is obviously unsafe for you to enter, or professional emergency services personnel are already on scene, your inaction is generally more harmful than your action will be. Much of what any responder can do in a first aid situation is based on common sense, so the first pulse any responder should check is his or her own. “Slow down, take a breath, and the training will kick in,” is a common phrase in my classes.

As instructors, our training in the classroom will resonate with our students in the field and likely may tip the balance when they're faced with the internal debate of whether or not to take action. I've had success in turning learning into a positive experience, not just with dry wit, but by having frank conversations about students’ fears and misgivings associated with rendering aid to a stranger. Plus, no one forgets my CPR lessons after I bust out the disco ball and leisure suit, and no, I'm not kidding...

In reality, this fear is the easiest of the three to dispel, especially once the person making the statement is gently reminded that they're sitting in a CPR/First Aid class. Learning what to do is half the battle.

Student response: “I was afraid I'd catch a disease.”
Me: “Really? Oh, ok – I see your point...”

Yes, communicable disease is something we must be cognizant of any time we interact with an injured or ill person. That said, the reality is that it's highly unlikely a caregiver will become infected if he or she follows basic steps for self-protection, not the least of which is good old soap and water. Some guidelines:

  • If it's wet and sticky, and it’s not yours, do not touch it! Seriously though, the use of protective barriers such as examination gloves, glasses, and a rescue mask will go a long way to protect you.
  • Ensure any cuts, scrapes, or open sores of your own are covered.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after rendering care.

Let’s not forget, there is nothing wrong with teaching “compression-only” CPR as a technique. On average, only 10% of people who need CPR actually receive it from bystanders. Cities with civilian education programs, such as Seattle’s Medic One program, report bystander-initiated CPR rates of 2 to 3 times the national average.

Even if an individual cannot overcome his or her fear of responding, we should still strive to equip that person with common sense steps they can take for every emergency, every time.

  1. Recognize when an emergency exists.
  2. Make a decision to take action of some kind.
  3. Activate 911 as soon as possible.
  4. Remain with the individual until help arrives.

I take great pride in hearing stories of former students who rose to the occasion and took action when needed. The fears of those who might not be inclined to respond can likely be overcome if we do what we do best – educate.


ECSI eNews-May 2013: Monthly Special

(Monthly Special from ECSI eNews: May 2013)

In Honor of National CPR and AED Awareness Week...
For the month of June:

Save 10% on CPR and AED Interactive!*

The CPR and AED Interactive course is simple to use and provides an interactive learning experience for students. The online course can be used as a supplement or substitute to traditional classroom lectures.** Learn more.

Call 1-800-716-7264 now or email our customer service team to place your order.

*Please refer to coupon code CAED13 when placing your order. 10% savings in addition to ECSI Education Center pricing. Not applicable on prior purchases. Monthly Specials are limited to U.S. and Canadian orders. Offer expires 6/28/13.

**On-site skills examinations are required in order to earn a nationally-recognized course completion card from ECSI.


Join Us for an Online Meeting to Explore PedFACTs 2E

Join us for an informative course administration webinar to discuss how you can facilitate a successful pediatric first aid training program in your community, using the Second Edition materials.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013
10:00-11:00 AM (EST)

Enroll for FREE Today!

Dr. Danette Swanson Glassy, editor of PedFACTs, clinical professor in pediatrics at the University of Washington, School of Medicine, and practicing pediatrician, will walk you through the new course content and format options, instructor materials and responsibilities, and course completion requirements.

The webinar will conclude with a question-and-answer period.


Kick Off to Summer Training

(Article from ECSI eNews: April 2013)

Summertime is just around the corner, and with it comes a host of new reasons to brush up on your emergency care skills and provide training for those in your local community. The new season is a great reminder of change, especially in our everyday routines. For many of us, we will be spending more time outdoors, vacationing in remote and unfamiliar areas, and engaging in new activities. This is the perfect time to provide CPR and AED, First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid training to prepare everyone for emergencies that will inevitably arise in the summer months.

School is almost out of session and summer camps are gearing up for an influx of young people to explore the great outdoors. The camp staff, from directors to counselors, is responsible for the well-being of every camper and needs to be prepared to handle all emergencies. ECSI’s CPR/AED, First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid courses are approved by the American Camp Association (ACA) and Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and most approved ECSI Instructors qualify to teach these courses to camp staff and attendees.

Boy Scout troops are looking forward to their high adventure camp trips. These excursions include a challenging canoe and camping trip and an extreme backpacking expedition, just to name a few. The BSA camp trips often require CPR/AED training and completion of the BSA Wilderness First Aid 16-hour course in order to attend. Take advantage of the Wilderness First Aid Field Guide and CPR and AED Interactive online course to ensure that your troops are trained before taking the Wilderness First Aid course. Or, offer a classroom-based CPR/AED course to fulfill the prerequisites.

Most local community organizations, including country clubs and lifeguarding facilities, are in the process of preparing their staff to respond to emergencies. Summer brings water activities, sunburns, and bug bites and stings. CPR/AED, First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid training will give staff members the confidence to take control in an emergency situation.

Are you ready to offer these crucial emergency care courses in time for summer deadlines? To get started today, call 1-800-716-7264 or email our Membership Office.


Adding Value

By: Bill Kimball, Founder/Owner
Safety Management & Response Training Associates
(Article from ECSI eNews: March 2013)

Those who know me personally know that I have a rather typical (i.e., cubicle-bound/corporate) 9-to-5 job. Evenings and weekends are split between my two loves – my family and teaching safety-related programs. However, despite being passionate about my business, I wasn't running it like a business. I was simply executing a training curriculum per the basic defined standards, and not much more. To clarify, it's perfectly acceptable to deliver programs such as CPR and First Aid without adding anything to the course.

With that said, however, I recently realized that I wasn't utilizing my business skills to add value to my courses for my customers. Previously, I viewed the two professions as completely separate.

That changed one evening when my wife asked, "If you were to begin training full-time, how would you do it?" It occurred to me she wasn't asking how I would train, but how I would be successful at it. As I set out to answer the question, my business analysis skills came to mind.

First, I needed to know my customers, and therefore organized them into groupings such as "parents," "school teachers," "daycare providers," and "youth organizations." Then I began to conduct an analysis identifying problems and motivators. What emerged was a model with which I was able to add value to specific groups of customers, charge a premium for that value, position myself as a solutions provider, and increase traffic to my business.

Beyond running a business, most safety-training instructors are also attracted to this field based on a desire to help and give back to our communities. For smaller training centers (such as my own), it may be difficult to see the line of demarcation between operating a business and "giving back." As a result, we may fail to see our customers as consumers, and further, we fail to see ourselves as vendors.

In a marketplace flooded with training centers, our customers not only have more choices in their "vendor," they also have more ways (Facebook, Internet searches, Twitter, etc.) to find training centers. They have high expectations, and while our consumers want high value at a low cost, they are willing to pay more for items they deem more valuable. Therefore, how do we add value, sustain a relationship with our customers, and set ourselves apart from the competition?

The experiment that followed my wife's question resulted in a balancing act between a renewed understanding of my consumers, and a repackaging of the services I was preparing to offer. In this case, I began to offer additional training modules on top of the basic core curricula. For example, I began adding topics such as household safety, evacuation planning, seasonal safety topics, and "stranger danger" tips when conducting CPR and First Aid training for parent and youth groups. I also began applying incremental rate increases to the per-person fee.

This new approach was a distinct success. Not only did I receive zero complaints from my consumers (because I was meeting their needs and providing added value), I was also able to increase my rates and word-of-mouth referrals.

The purpose of this article is not to suggest that we dispose of tried-and-true curricula or that we write our own curricula without regard for established protocols. The point is to demonstrate a way to distinguish one training center from others, transforming it from simply providing training to becoming solutions providers.

This will not work in all situations, and my method is far from perfect. But I will continue to apply the lessons learned from my day job and regularly iterate my offerings based on a solid understanding of my consumers, markets, colleagues, and competitors.

Additionally, this article does not provide a roadmap for implementation at your training center; my intent is to simply plant the seed in your heads, stimulating thought and discussion of these suggestions. I am certain there are plenty of other training centers already servicing their customers in this fashion by creating value while simultaneously driving revenue opportunities.

ECSI wants to hear from you!

What innovative methods have you employed to drive traffic to your Education Center courses? How do you add value to standard programs for your customers? How would you recommend training centers delineate themselves from the competition? Share your thoughts and ideas on our ECSI Facebook page and be sure to stop by in the coming weeks to learn what your colleagues are doing to stand out in this competitive training market.