Every year, I participate in a CPR training. I do this in part because it's required in order to keep my teaching (yoga and fitness) certifications current. I also believe that responsible adults should know how to administer basic CPR and first aid in the event of an emergency. I support the work of the American Red Cross and have great respect for their volunteers and programs. And, although I've been CPR certified for more than 10 years and could simply take a quick re-test, I decided early on that I would devote 4 hours each year to re-fresh my skills. After all, I don't do CPR every day (thank heavens), so there is a natural tendency to forget things.
All in all, I find these trainings to be quite fun! The videos feature dramatized scenarios that are so over the top you can't help but giggle - that is when the machines work - and I love "Connie," a video instructor, whose hairdo changes from segment to segment. The people you meet in class are interesting too. Once, I was partnered with the ex-husband of another yoga instructor I know. He kept drilling me for info and then told me I reminded him of his former wife - but in a good way. At another training, a woman raised her hand and actually asked "How do you spell CPR?" I swear I'm not making this stuff up!
I must say, however, that I have had some wonderful trainers. My favorite was a woman a few years older than me. She was full of life and had a great sense of humor. She was from the mid-west and probably the best CPR trainer I've ever had. Unfortunately, she never, ever, told us her name.
So, yesterday, I made my annual CPR training pilgrimage. It was my first training with the American Red Cross in Chattanooga. There were only two of us that showed up for class, but none the less, it did not disappoint. I still struggled to remove my plastic gloves without transmitting bodily fluid and surprised my 200++ pound partner with my skills at rolling, supporting, etc (I've been doing this a while!). Our trainer was super sweet and by the book, even reminding us not to look at each other's answers during our written test. (For the record, 200++ man had broken the head off of his rescue doll during CPR. I wasn't really tempted to cheat!).
Today, my wrist and shoulder are sore...as they always are after training...but I am grateful for it. Although I really hope I never have to use any skill I learned in class, I am reminded every year that these classes teach something far more important. They teach us patience. Patience with ourselves, patience with others, and patience when things go wrong. And go wrong they will. Granted, it may not be a life-threatening emergency, but every day we are faced with crisis. That's why I practice yoga and that's why I spend a few hours in a yearly CPR class. When you boil it down, the message is the same...clarity, living in the present, physical and mental strength, and, most importantly, how to be a part of a bigger whole...how to give back.
If you haven't stepped into a CPR training, I encourage you to check it out. Contact your local chapter or visit http://www.redcross.org/. Take a deep breath, keep your sense of humor, and learn how to save a life. It is well worth your time!