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A group of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation Nov. 9 during the CPR and First Aid certification course. This was a free life skill course offered through the Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Fort Drum Soldiers learn lifesaving skills through BOSS

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 13, 2023) – One of the three pillars of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program focuses on life skills training. This covers everything from balancing a checkbook and making a healthy meal in the barracks, to performing basic maintenance on a vehicle and learning how to swim.

Many of these activities tend to benefit the individual’s quality of life and well-being. But when Soldiers at Fort Drum attended the CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and First Aid certification course on Nov. 9, they had the health and safety of others in mind.

“It’s a good skill to know because it makes the workplace safer,” said Sgt. Keegan Murphy, Fort Drum BOSS vice president. “I know that if someone needs CPR, I have the ability to administer it and possibly save a life.”

Staff Sgt. Natasha Shoemaker, with 548th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, had family in mind when she registered for the class.

“I have three little girls at home, and I wanted to make sure that I know the proper first aid procedures if something were to happen,” she said. “I also wanted to do this for my Soldiers, because we go out in the field a lot, and I want to be able to respond if we don’t have a medic around.”

Rob Mushtare, a lead recreational specialist with Fort Drum Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, has roughly a decade of experience as a CPR instructor. In all that time, he said no one has ever failed his class.

“I always make sure every person who takes this class has comprehended all of the instruction,” he said. “My job is to make sure they learn the material, and I kind of take pride on the fact that I haven’t had any failures yet.”

The mix of classroom and hands-on instruction enables Soldiers to learn the procedures for rescue ventilation and chest compressions, and then perform it on a CPR mannequin. The realistic training aid mimics lung functions and has internal lights that simulate blood flow.

Mushtare said there is always anxiety to quell early on when students face the reality of having to apply textbook material to a real-world scenario.

“People get a little nervous sometimes by the thought that they might possibly have to use that knowledge to save a life,” he said. “So, then I try to talk them through that, get them to relax and realize that they will be able to do this for real.”

If Shoemaker had any concerns about her ability to perform CPR, she did not let it show.

“I felt really comfortable doing this,” Shoemaker said. “You can watch how to do this on a video, but to practice it and experience it with hands-on training is so much better.”

Murphy said that some people might see it as just another training class, but he said it can make a profound difference in someone’s life.

“The more people who know these skills, the more likely it is that good things are going to happen as a result,” he said. “You never know if it’s going to be a loved one, a friend, a friend of a friend, a co-worker. You just never know when something is going to happen to somebody, and the faster you can start providing care to that person, the more likely you are going to help save that person’s life. That’s why this is important.”

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