Learn how to be a life-saver: CPR classes are available through Douglas County Parks & Recreation Department | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Learn how to be a life-saver: CPR classes are available through Douglas County Parks & Recreation Department

Jennie Tezak
Tahoe Douglas firefighter-paramedic Kelly Pettit will teach three CPR classes - today, March 12 and May 14 - through Douglas County Parks and Recreation. Classes cost $30. (Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

When people hear the term “CPR,” they often envision the rescue of a stranger who has collapsed from cardiac arrest in a public place.

But when cardiopulmonary resuscitation is used, it’s frequently to save the life of a family member, said Kelly Pettit, a firefighter-paramedic with the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District.

Pettit, along with firefighter Leo Horton, teaches a class in CPR through the Douglas County Parks and Recreation Department. The class is being offered tonight, and again in March and May.

“Everyone should learn the basics,” Pettit said. “It may not be a stranger they come across. It could be a family member, so everyone should know what to do.”

Tonight’s class runs from 6 to 9 p.m. The class is offered again March 12 and May 14. At the end of the class, students receive CPR cards from the American Red Cross, which are good for one year.

“It teaches you to check if someone is breathing or if they have a pulse,” Pettit said. “It teaches you how to do compressions properly, how to do hand placement and give breaths at proper rates.”

Pettit said the class also shows how to react if someone is having a heart attack.

“It teaches you how to properly place a 911 call and what information to give to dispatchers,” Pettit said.

The class includes CPR techniques for adults, children and infants. Pettit said the class also covers other skills, such as how to respond if someone is choking, unconscious or has a broken leg.

Anita Swearingen, a teacher at Faith Christian Academy in Gardnerville, has been one of Pettit’s students. Pettit taught a CPR class to a group of teachers from the school a few weeks ago.

“We felt it was really important to get certified,” Swearingen said. “I have taken the classes before. She was very informative and personable. We learned a lot. A lot of the compressions had changed. I needed to get re-certified.”

Swearingen said she liked the way the class was taught.

“I like her technique of using a Red Cross video; the video makes you get down on your hands and knees and practice the technique on dummies,” she said.

Swearingen recently had to rescue her 7-year-old daughter when she choked on some hard candy that ended up in her esophagus.

“I had a choking incident with my own child and did Heimlich,” she said. “You don’t think you’ll use it, but you’re glad you know. I did everything I was supposed to do.”

Pettit said that a lot of her students are local employees who must learn CPR for their jobs.

“I get a lot of people who work first aid at ski resorts, casino workers, and for anyone who wants to get into EMT classes, it’s a requirement,” Pettit said. “I also teach personal trainers from fitness centers and school teachers.”

“It’s important to learn CPR,” she said. “It can make a difference between life and death.”

The CPR classes cost $30. For more information, call (775) 782-9828.

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