For Kirk Wannamaker, a terrible accident was what convinced him he needed to learn standard first aid and how to save a life. Now, he’s turned that desire to help others into a partnership with the Red Cross to provide CPR and first aid training to the rural citizens of Woolwich and the surrounding area.
“Unfortunately, I had someone die, and I didn’t know first aid at the scene,” Wannamaker explained.
About five years ago while driving his daughter, Vicki, home from ringette, they came upon the scene of a collision where a 19-year-old driver had struck a telephone pole. Wannamaker made his best attempts to help the victim until help arrived, but it was not enough.
“I realized it was silly and I couldn’t continue on like this and not know what I was doing.”
Wannamaker earned his standard first aid certificate from the Red Cross, and for the past two years he has been working with the Red Cross as an instructor.
Now he is taking that collaboration with the Red Cross one step further: he and Vicki have developed a business plan to partner with the Red Cross and have formed KMW Outreach Inc., aimed at getting first aid training out into the more rural areas.
“The Red Cross wants to move out into the community and start providing first aid training right in the communities, as opposed to having rural people drive into Kitchener or Guelph. They’re finding that if we can go out and provide the first aid training, the penetration would be a lot better for the Red Cross programs.”
Wannamaker is looking to do training through schools, church groups, community centres, and even private companies that require their employees to have specific first aid training.
His daughter, Vicki, is going to offer a babysitting course to youth aged 11 to 15. Vicki, 20, has worked as a lifeguard at the pool in Elmira since she was 16, and also took the babysitting course herself when she was 12, so she is well aware of the requirements of the program.
“It’s basically teaching kids how to take care of babies, toddlers, school-age children. It also helps with families who might have an older child and might want to keep the kids at home alone, it gives them more confidence that the child will know what they’re doing.”
Vicki, who is also a member of the first response team at her Wilfrid Laurier University campus, said many people are hesitant about applying first aid or CPR because they are afraid of doing something wrong and further injuring the person, which only emphasizes the need to become properly certified.
Wannamaker’s business plan has him working in Elmira up to the Owen Sound, Collingwood, and Hanover area. He is going to be offering CPR/AED training, emergency first aid, standard first aid, healthcare provider training, as well as recertification of all levels. His goal is to have two classes per month in the standard first aid and CPR training, as well as offer courses to private companies.
Wannamaker sees the babysitting course as an important first step in introducing a child to proper first aid training, including the proper response if a child is cut or choking.
Aside from basic first aid and childcare tips, however, the babysitter program will help instruct youth on how to write an effective résumé, what questions to ask parents before accepting a job, and how to change and feed young children.
“You don’t consider having to feed them, and even what to do when they’re sleeping. It can be a big surprise how much you actually have to do when you’re babysitting,” said Vicki.
The standard first aid courses run about $120 per person, and the CPR course will cost about $80. The babysitting course costs $40.
It takes 16 hours of training to earn your standard first aid training certification, and it can be done over a weekend. For the babysitting course, youth must complete eight hours of training, which can either be done in one day, or over the course of a couple weeks.
Wannamaker also said the only restriction for learning CPR is that students must be 16 years old, otherwise they may not have sufficient body mass to properly perform the chest compressions. He does emphasize that everyone can, and should, learn basic first aid.
“Seventy per cent of heart attacks occur within the home, and from the time someone calls an ambulance until they arrive on scene is about eight minutes, and if nobody does anything for those eight minutes their survival rate is very late. But by training in first aid, they can at least keep the person viable until help arrives.”
The elderly should not be afraid of earning their first aid certification just because on their age alone, either.
“I had a 70-year-old nurse recertify to go back into the emergency room. The big element with CPR is the compressions, and some people can have significant arthritis and are afraid to try it, but we can teach them single-hand compressions so they are still able to do it,” he said.
KMW Outreach will be offering first aid and babysitting courses over March break. More information is available online at www.kmwoutreach.ca or by calling Kirk Wannamaker at (519) 722-9666.