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Pfc. Shalicia Young, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade BOSS representative, performs cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a training aid during a CPR certification course March 11 at Lloyd’s Landing Lodge, as class instructor Stephen Strosser looks on. The Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program offers a variety of free Life Skills classes. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)


Fort Drum BOSS offers life-saving training 

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 13, 2023) – A group of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers spent part of their weekend learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and basic first aid through the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program.

The free CPR certification course consisted of roughly eight to 12 hours of online and in-person instruction. Participants learned how to assess a victim, respond to cardiac and breathing emergencies, and how to use an automated external defibrillator.

Stephen Strosser, class instructor, said the purpose of the course is to help Soldiers recognize and respond properly to emergencies and know what care to give until medical professionals arrive.

“After finishing the online portion, they have all the knowledge, so when they show up here we go into the hands-on, skill-based training so they can become certified,” he said.  

Strosser noted that everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn CPR, but simply having the means of helping someone in an emergency usually tops the list.

“You want to be prepared if and when something happens,” he said. “In reality, it could be your mom, dad, child, or best friend who needs help. So, this is valuable to know.”

Pfc. Shalicia Young, BOSS representative for the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, said that she has never been in a situation where she would have used CPR.

“But this is still a good skill to know,” she said. “I’m going to need it for the career field I want to go into after the Army, so it will be easier for me if I take this now.”

A medical emergency can arise anywhere, at any time, and that was why Spc. Mahmoud Abdalfattah said he wanted the CPR certification.

“It’s good to have this knowledge, especially in the Army,” he said. “Not everyone around you will have this experience, so it’s good to be someone who can help. I have Red Cross experience in my country before I came to Fort Drum. But here, I want to get more certifications and more experience.”

Sgt. James Ricks, Fort Drum BOSS president, said the intent of the Life Skills program is to promote self-development in Soldiers with a variety of free personal and professional training and certification classes.

“The BOSS Life Skills program began in 2015 when the Army saw the need for something that could increase morale in Soldiers by teaching them skills they can use in their lives,” he said. “It started with about 18 installations in a pilot program and became so popular that it expanded to every installation in the Army.”

Since then, Soldiers at Fort Drum have registered for classes in automobile maintenance, cooking, rock climbing, snowboarding, and skiing. Upcoming life skills events include a beginner’s driving course, lifeguard training, financial readiness, 3D printing, and a yoga and meditation class.

Ricks recently participated in the “Learn to Swim” class, taught by lifeguards at Magrath Sports Complex.

“I cannot swim, but this was a really good class, and I learned a lot from it,” he said.

While he is not a great swimmer yet, Ricks said he feels more comfortable in the water and confident in his abilities.

“You can’t let fear of failure get in the way of improving your life,” he said. “You might not get it right at first, but you are getting an experience you can use throughout your life. My personal view is you have to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.”

To learn more about the Fort Drum BOSS program, visit or call (315) 772-7807.