Left: Fort Drum family members practice CPR techniques on adult and infant mannequins during a free child and infant CPR class Nov. 4 at the Fort Drum Enrichment Center. Right: Tom Wojcikowski, one of three certified instructors from the Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division, guides participants through the free child and infant CPR course. The course included online and in-person, hands-on training to certify participants in this life-saving basic life support skill. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Family members learn lifesaving skill during CPR certification class

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

Sgt. Heath Samsel has a baby on the way, and even though he has taken CPR training before, he made time in his schedule to attend the free child and infant CPR class Nov. 4 at the Fort Drum Enrichment Center.

Studies show that if cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is started in the first two minutes of an infant or child becoming unresponsive, there is approximately an 85 percent chance of successfully resuscitating him or her.

Samsel said that he hasn’t experienced a situation where CPR was required, but it isn’t a reason not to know how.

“You just never know if you’re going to need it,” he said. “It’s a skill you hope you never have to use.”

Dan Johnson, Scarlett Sharkey and Tom Wojcikowski, three certified instructors from the Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division, led participants through hands-on training, using both adult and infant mannequins to perform basic life support techniques.

Johnson said that one of the benefits of training for both adult and infant victims is that people become familiar with the difference in hand positioning and the thrust when administering chest compressions.

“The biggest thing is not to be scared,” Johnson said. “No one wants to hurt a child – that’s human nature – and they think putting too much pressure on a baby is going to do that. But this is about saving a baby’s life.”

As with adults, performing CPR on a child is a combination of 30 rhythmic chest compressions and two rescue breaths. The group practiced two different chest compressions techniques – using thumbs or the two-finger method – for infants.

“You have to give the same pressure on a baby as you would to an adult, just not as deep,” Johnson said. “And the two methods we learn are designed so you won’t hurt the baby, but still give that good compression.”

Additionally, rescue breaths require less air for babies because their lungs are smaller.

“It’s the same two to three breaths, but it’s not a full breath,” Johnson said.

Attendees also learned how to use the automated external defibrillator, a portable electronic device that automatically measures a person’s heart rhythm and applies shock if needed. All participants entered the hands-on training after completing online instruction and then passed a test to earn their certification.

“Based on how quickly everyone registered for this class, we knew this was something our family members wanted, and we’re hoping to offer it again soon,” said Lorilyn Starr, Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division chief. “We are currently partnering with Child and Youth Services to provide the CPR portion of the Red Cross Babysitters Course.”

The next Babysitter Course is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 2-3 and 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 4. Students need to be registered at the Youth Center. For more information, call (315) 772-8675.

To learn more about upcoming classes and events from the Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division, visit www.facebook.com/FortDrumSFRD.