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CPR Certification Marks Launch of Aka’ula Red Cross Club

Instructor Gordon Gillis demonstrates chest compressions

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

A handful of Molokai residents, students and Red Cross volunteers got certified or recertified to practice adult and child CPR and first aid during two classes held last Thursday. The classes were taught on Molokai by Gordon Gillis of Maui, owner of Safety Services Hawaii, a company that provides community and workplace health training and consulting. Among those that attended were five Aka’ula School students, representing the county’s first school Red Cross club.

Participants of the classes became certified in the most recent Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) techniques as well as how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and basic emergency first aid. The certification is good for two years, and four Red Cross Molokai volunteers became recertified.

Gillis is a certified trainer for OSHA and the American Red Cross and his company offers com-munity safety training such as CPR, basic life support, Red Cross instructor training, lifeguard-ing, babysitting and others, along with driving and workplace safety and health training. This was Gillis’ first visit to instruct on Molokai, facilitated by a Molokai resident whose son needed CPR recertification for his work. Many organizations that normally offer CPR training, like Molokai General Hospital, are on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gillis said he was happy to offer the training, and will be returning to offer two more Red Cross adult and pediatric first aid/CPR/AED classes on April 15.

Jenny Worth, Disaster Program Manager for Maui County with the American Red Cross, also came to visit with Molokai Red Cross volunteers as well as students of Aka’ula’s new Red Cross club. Worth said other schools around Maui County are also starting similar clubs, but Aka’ula’s represents the first of its kind.

Aka’ula’s Dara Lukonen said the school saw a need for their students to be more engaged in serving the community. She said last September, Worth to Maui County school administrators about ways students could become involved with the Red Cross. The niece of Vicki Newberry, a founding teacher of the school, has traveled extensively as a Red Cross volunteer providing counseling support, said Lukonen.

“After receiving Jenny’s email and talking with Annie [Vicki’s niece], we were inspired and encouraged to start a Red Cross club at the school,” she said. “Student response was immediate, and we began the process of forming the club. Nine students completed applications and inter-views. The CPR/AED training was our first Red Cross activity with five of the nine members participating.”

Eighth grade student member Auli’i Ching said the club plans to help organize blood donations and other community service projects.

“It was really fun,” said Ching of the Thursday class. “I thought CPR was going to be a lot harder to learn, but it was really easy.”

Gillis made the information accessible and easy to understand. Additionally, updated Red Cross CPR guidelines no longer call for checking the pulse of a patient who isn’t breathing before initiating chest compressions, eliminating a step in the process that can lead to errors and confusion, he said.

Class participants practiced techniques on mannequins, as well as wore masks and practiced social distancing as a COVID-19 precaution.

For those interested in participating in the April 15 classes, visit safetyservicesha-waii.com/classes for more info or to register.

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