Senior Center offering CPR and fire extinguisher classes
August 8, 2018



The Lehigh Acres Senior Center is partnering with the Lehigh Acres Fire Control & Rescue District to offer two life -saving classes for both its members and the general public.

Lehigh Acres Senior Center Director Melissa Barry said one of the things they have been striving to do is teach their members to take better care of themselves, as well as others. She said since their board is required to know CPR, they started opening it up to other members.

"It can help anybody at any point in time," she said. "When they learn life basic skills, they can protect themselves and the ones they love. You can be at a restaurant, come across an accident. It can help you at any point of time."

The CRP class, open to Senior Center members and the public, will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17. The program is free for members and $4 for nonmembers.

"They have to sign up because space is limited," Barry said. "It's an awesome class."

The class can accommodate 20 people.

She said they work with the Lehigh Acres Fire Department because they know what works and does not work in terms of CPR.

"That's what I love about the programs offered through the fire department. These men see this first hand, they see the damage that can be done," she said.

Lehigh Acres Fire Control & Rescue District EMS Training Captain Martin McDowell said the CPR class is a family and friends kind of course that focuses on adult, child and infant CPR. It also includes conscious choking and unconscious choking for an infant, child and adult.

"I include ventilation in as a component and the use of AED," McDowell said.

They try to offer the CPR class the last Friday of every month free to the public through the fire district. The classes are offered to all ages; the only restriction is the individual has to be old enough to understand the class.

"They just need to sign up at Station 105 with Anita," McDowell said.

The CPR classes are important because they save lives.

"It's the most important thing. The person who does save lives is the closest person to that patient that needs it," McDowell said. "The first 10 minutes of cardiac arrest is the most important to save someone."

Twice a year, he presents the Phoenix Award, which is given to dispatchers, law enforcement as well as firefighters.

"To see the survivor and the families and how thankful they are, that is reward enough," McDowell said.

The second class the Senior Center is partnering with the Fire Department for is a fire extinguisher class, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7. This class can accommodate 20 to 25 people. It is free for members, $4 for nonmembers.

Barry said this class makes their seniors better prepared for any instance at the Senior Center, as well as in the outside world.

This is the second time the Senior Center has partnered with the fire department to offer the fire extinguisher class. Barry said last time the class attracted 15-20 people.

"I participated in the class. I learned a lot. Everyone learned something about fire extinguishers," she said.

Lehigh Acres Fire Control & Rescue District Assistant Chief of Life Safety/Fire Marshal Ken Bennett said they brought the participants to the fire station located off South Sunshine, which they will do again this time.

The class first met inside the classroom where they talked about fire extinguishers, what they look like and how to use them.

"We talk about using a fire extinguisher for personal safety and safety of others in the building," he said.

After about 30 to 45 minutes the class was opened up to a question-and-answer period before going outside to use old fire extinguishers that still had air inside of them for the demonstration.

"We created a fire inside of a pan and knocked the fire out with the fire extinguisher," Bennett said.

During the fire portion, they have a fire truck there because people generally feel more at ease with firefighters standing around them, he said.

The class is beneficial because most people don't know how to use a fire extinguisher properly. Bennett said it's important to aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire because it will generally knock the fire out.

"It's a great confidence booster. A lot of people are scared of trying," he said. "Most of the people that take this type of training will actually use a fire extinguisher if they have to."

Bennett said they generally try to schedule the classes once a month through the fire district.

"We can do it as little as five people and as many as 30," he said. "We generally would have them contact Janis Williams at 303-5317, touch base with her to set something up. (From there we will) figure out where the best place to do the actual demonstration at one of the fire stations."

Bennett said he likes teaching the classes because he enjoys watching participants leave the class with new knowledge and confidence.

Barry said she is grateful for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District because they get the job done.

"They are willing to teach and they want you to learn. When you learn you can teach others and their job is so much easier. It is safer for them and safer for you," she said.

To register for either of the classes, contact the Senior Center at (239) 369-5355, or stop by at 219 Plaza Drive.


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