Training for a 'race against time'

A Red Cross official in Thunder Bay says recent incidents show how first aid training saves lives.

First aid and CPR are valuable skills that people never regret learning, Thunder Bay advocates say

Melissa Vilcek, a lifeguard at the Dease Street public pool in Thunder Bay, encourages everyone to get first aid and CPR training. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

A Red Cross official in Thunder Bay says recent incidents show how first aid training saves lives.

Last weekend, a Manitoba man — who had just learned CPR — revived an unconscious child at a northwestern Ontario beach.

A Red Cross spokesperson said it's not uncommon for trainees to call on their newly honed skills.

Marge Enders, who co-ordinates First Aid and CPR training for the Red Cross in Thunder Bay, said she knows of one Thunder Bay-area man who is especially grateful he learned CPR.

"About a week after having taken his course he recently saved his own son — who was about four or five — from ... a near-drowning in their backyard pool," Enders said.

Marge Enders, Injury Prevention and First Aid co-ordinator at the Red Cross in Thunder Bay, said training only takes a day or two. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

She noted most people sign up because their employers send them.

"Usually they're not too happy about having to take it, but for the most part the feedback you receive is ‘wow, am I ever glad that I had to take the course.’"

Training important for everyone

Thunder Bay lifeguarding veteran Melissa Vilcek said saving a person from drowning is a race against time.

"If somebody's there who's trained … that split second or that minute can mean everything to that person," she said.

Vilcek is a lifeguard at Dease Street Pool and has been a lifeguard for 11 years. She said basic First Aid and CPR training is important for the general public to take.

"I always say that if I was in a car accident somewhere on the highway, I hope somebody would stop to help me," Vilcek said.

"Because you never know how long it would take for an ambulance to respond.  So I always say if I saw something I would go and assist since I am trained and ... I hope somebody would do the same for me."    

Enders said she urges everyone to take first aid and CPR. She said it only takes a day or two — a small investment to save a life.

"You could possibly save a family member or a loved one's life in the future," Enders added. "I mean, to me, there's no greater ... gift you could give someone than saving their life."

First aid and CPR training courses are available in Thunder Bay all summer, both from the Red Cross and from St. John Ambulance.