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Learn CPR for your Valentine
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Katie Lawson
February 14, 2007

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and friendship with your main squeze or other loved ones. Demonstrate your love by learning skills that can help save a life in an emergency. Knowing CPR is an invaluable skill – a fact Veleka Strickland and Colby Baker know well.

Last Halloween, as Veleka Strickland was returning to her North Carolina home after work, a car accident forced her to detour from her usual route. As she passed a local church, she noticed a lot of activity on the side of the road. As Strickland exited her car, this American Red Cross blood technician heard cries for help.

"I remember pulling over on the side of the road," says Strickland. "I jumped out of the car and started yelling ‘I know CPR!’"

On the side of the road lay Colby Baker, a 5-year-old boy wearing a red M&M costume. Strickland, the only one in the crowd trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), peered down at him and tried to locate a pulse. When she failed to find one, she tried to revive the young boy.

When the ambulance arrived roughly eight minutes later, the severely injured Colby was still alive thanks to Strickland's efforts. Lucky for him, Strickland had completed Red Cross CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) training. Despite the frantic situation, Strickland had remained calm and succeeded in reviving the boy.

Veleka Strickland’s story is a perfect example of just how important it is for everyone to be trained in CPR. Knowing the correct techniques can be essential in saving the life of a loved one or even, as in Strickland’s case, a total stranger. For nearly a century, the Red Cross has prepared people to save lives through health and safety education and training. Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED programs are designed to give you the confidence to respond in an emergency situation with skills that can help save a life.

The Red Cross Adult CPR training provides hands-on skill training that prepares participants to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies in adults. Coupled with automated external defibrillator (AED) training, this course is highly effective in preparing everyone to be able to lend a hand in emergency situations. During CPR and AED training, people are taught to:

  • Quickly recognize cardiac arrest or other emergencies and call 9-1-1.
  • Administer CPR right away, if necessary.
  • Use an AED, if one is available.
  • Continue to give care until EMS arrives.

The Red Cross also offers child and infant CPR classes, designed for those who care for children full time or occasionally. This course teaches participants how to recognize and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies in infants and children age 12 and under.

Strickland continues to work in North Carolina as a blood technician for the Red Cross, but she never stops thinking of the little boy she happened upon on the side of the road that night. Visiting Colby almost every day he was in the hospital, Strickland kept him in her thoughts.

"This has been a life changing experience for me," says Strickland. "I still keep in touch with him and his parents. I’m ecstatic that he’s making such great progress."

This Valentine’s Day, make a promise to your sweetheart to get trained and learn how to save a life. Taking a class together can be a fun activity.

Visit the "Health and Safety Services" section on RedCross.org to learn more about American Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED training, and contact your local Red Cross chapter for classes in your area.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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