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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wanted: Dedicated, Committed Volunteer Health and Safety Instructors

Matt Reeves, Territory Training Specialist for the Rocky Mountain region, says the Red Cross is always in need of a few committed men and women to teach babysitting, CPR, First Aid and the other health and safety courses that make up the instructional component of the organization’s mission.

Training for instructors is extensive, with a process that begins after the standard volunteer application process. Instructors must complete a CPR refresher course, an instructor training, a co-teaching experience and teach a course under observation. The Red Cross provides all of this training for FREE – but Instructors are asked to repay the organization for their training by teaching eight courses per year. Individuals with an instructional or medical background (nurses, EMTs and other first responders) tend to be well-suited to provide the patience and expertise that this kind of volunteer work requires, although there are no special skills or regulatory requirements for becoming an instructor. One need only be over 18 (to teach a course alone) and, as Reeves said, must come into their role with a real desire to teach and to work independently. Successful volunteers, Reeves said, “Really want to be teachers,” and can be relied upon to consistently teach to the steady stream of interested trainees.

Reeves said that an ongoing need exists for instructors willing to teach the Red Cross babysitting course, which tends to draw a specific age group of tweens and adolescents. “I’m a big fan of people who like kids,” Reeves said, “Because I like to steer my volunteers toward teaching babysitting.” Coincidentally, Colorado sells out babysitting classes regularly and leads the nation in enrollment in this course.

But while the extensive training and the commitment to teaching requires a particularly dedicated volunteer, Reeves said this kind of volunteer work is “self-rewarding.” He described the common situation of meeting a former trainee in public: “I can’t really describe to you what it’s like when you’re in a grocery store or at a movie, and someone goes, ‘Hey, you were my First Aid instructor!’” He said. “Then the story kicks off with, ‘My daughter was choking,’ or, ‘My grandmother had a heart attack… Just the fact that they knew what to do was life-changing for them. It’s an easy feeling to get addicted to.”

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