How to Spot the ‘Shady Trainer’

Several sources already exist to explain the ins and outs of CPR.  How to do it, what to do and why.  But there are very few sources that explain how to spot the ‘shady trainer.’  You know the one.  The trainer who takes your money and runs-leaving you without a certification.  The trainer who cancels class at the last minute-often when you are already waiting for them to arrive.  E-mails that are never returned.  Phone calls that are never answered.  An 800 number that is always answered by an answering service-a glorified voice mail system manned by humans instead of machines.

I am inspired to write this tonight after opening up my center last week to do an AHA Skills Session for a teacher.  She needed this certification by Monday in order to keep her teaching license current.  She had been registered (and paid for) a class offered at a wholly different company, in September-but, that class was cancelled 5 am the morning of class because the instructor didn’t have 9 people in class and it wasn’t worth their time to drive in to teach.  That same trainer cancelled her class again two weeks later for the same reason.  The teacher gave them a third chance, and this time, the trainer never showed up to teach.  Just a few days ago, I had a student come to my class whose trainer–you guessed it–cancelled the morning of class (and yes-it was the same trainer as in the first example)

You might think this is a rare thing, but it is not.  I hear similar stories at least once a week-the ‘shady instructor’ took your money and you don’t get a class.  Now, accidents happen.  Extreme circumstances exist.  No one is perfect.  But, here are some warning signs that you may wish to spend your money elsewhere for training:

1)  You call the trainer and never talk to a person.  While e-mail is great for communicating many things, nothing beats talking to a person to answer a question.

2)  You call the trainer and end up talking to someone who doesn’t know anything about classes and if obviously only there as an admin assistant/answering service.

3)  The trainer makes a big deal about ‘minimum students needed.’  This isn’t a big deal when booking a corporate/group training.  BUT, if you are an individual looking for a class-please please please-run away from classes that will only run with a large number of students.  Yes, instructors need to get paid, but, in my experience, it is rare to see an open-enrollment class top 7 students.  Do you really want to depend upon your certification on someone being able to book 9 or 10 people at a time?

4)  Class policies are not visible on the website and/or class registrations.  These policies will often outline policies regarding late arrivals, extreme weather and class cancellations.  Make sure you look them over and, if you ask for the policies and the trainer cannot send you a copy and/or a copy is not readily available on the website–RUN.

5)  If you complain to the trainer and you are told that you are the only client who has ever had a problem, or you the client did something wrong, or you the client are at fault.  Again, no one is perfect, but this is a business-the client may not always be right, but the do have the right to make a mistake too.

6)  The trainer is not upfront about their status.  By this, I mean that they do not reveal their supervisory training center.  No one in the AHA training network is “independent.”  Everyone has a boss.  Everyone has to answer to someone.  No trainer is an island.

7)  Look out for websites that have several pages of “404-Not found.”  I recently looked at a website for a local company where the “About Us” “Reviews”  “Online Store” “Blog” and “Contact Us” pages all lead to “404-Page not Found.”  But-you could pay for a class no problem.  This tells me that this company is happy to take your money, but, not happy to let you learn anything about them, talk to them or see what other clients have to say.  This is a big issue.

8)  The trainer arrives to class dressed inappropriately for the environment.  Let me explain:  You wouldn’t wear heels to a construction site.  Instead, you would expect khakis or even jeans.  In a corporate office, you would expect business casual dress but frown upon jeans and a T-shirt.  A “Professional rescuer” uniform is wholly inappropriate outside of that environment.  You should not see EMT-wear in the corporate office, or Lifeguard uniforms away from the pool.  Either one of those things tells you that the trainer is hoping you will be dazzled by their apparent awesomeness and not pay attention to the lessons and the fact that they do not know what they are doing.  (On a side note-the CPR trainer that shows up in his/her EMT uniform, complete with walkie-talkie and flashlight really get on my last nerve.  Wearing that much kit tells me you just came off shift and probably haven’t showered yet.

9)  Your training class is cancelled-often with less than 24 hours notice.  I promise my students that I will never cancel a class and the only time I have ever cancelled a class (in well over 15 years), was when the Governor declared a state of emergency and told people to not drive.  And in that instance, I called each student and rescheduled them based on their schedule-not mine)  It is the height of disrespect to call a student-frequently a teacher or healthcare worker who needs this certification to work, and say “sorry, I’m cancelling.”  Too bad, so sad.  That is a horrid way to treat the people who teach our children and care for our sick.

10)  TRUST YOUR GUT.  If you call/communicate with the trainer and don’t feel welcomed, respected and appreciated, find another trainer!  I’m not saying that the trainer will kiss your feet, but a good trainer will be professional and a Great Trainer will make you feel like you are in good hands.

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Celebrating CPR/AED Week – June 1-7, 2013

Safety Education Specialists had the pleasure of introducing several dozen Federal employees to Hands-Only CPR (  It was wonderful to see so many people learning the simplest way to help save a life.  We even had requests for Pet CPR!

Each session also gave the participants a resource for completing the full CPR/AED training course to achieve their certification.  I like to make sure that all Hands-Only CPR students know about opportunities to learn more about CPR and AED techniques.

For information on CPR/AED training courses (including BLS), please use the Contact Form.

Posted in 2010 Guidelines, AED, CPR Class, CPR in the Real World, Hands-Only, Pet Safety | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing the Right CPR class

One of our most common questions is “What CPR class do I need?”  Here is a quick guide to Virginia CPR requirements (with notations for DC and Maryland).

We will use your profession to determine the correct CPR class:

Non-Healthcare: This includes Personal Trainers, Child Care Professionals, Daycare Providers, some Holistic Practitioners (such as massage therapists) and in Maryland: Pharmacists who do not deliver vaccinations.  This is also the course of choice for the workplace that has initiated an AED program and needs to certify it’s employees.

SES Students learning AHA Heartsaver AED

For this category the AHA Heartsaver AED and/or Heartsaver First Aid with CPR/AED class is most appropriate.  This course covers CPR and using an AED, as well as Choking.  The First Aid course covers initial actions in basic first aid emergencies.  Determine if you need to learn criteria for all ages-Adult, Child and Infant.  Or, when you take a class from SES, all ages are covered in every class.  The Heartsaver courses do not require a written exam, however, some employers/government agencies (Virginia’s CASA program, for instance), do require a written examination.

Healthcare: This includes nurses, CNA, GNA, RN, BSN, MSN, Physicians, MD, Dentists, Dental Hygienists  Anesthesiologists, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Lifeguards and, in Maryland, Personal Trainers.

For this category, the AHA Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, or Healthcare Provider CPR is most appropriate.  This program covers Adult, Child and Infant protocols, using an AED, working as a Team and has a required written examination.

Practicing AHA BLS 2-rescuer CPR with AED

If you are in doubt as to which type of course is most appropriate, please choose the Basic Life Support (BLS) course.  As this course is more advanced, it is most likely to meet your needs.

To see a list of all Safety Education Specialists CPR and BLS courses in Ashburn, VA, please visit our website: .  We offer easy online registration and promise to never cancel a class for low-enrollment.

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AHA Online CPR AED and BLS Training: 10 Easy Steps to your Online CPR Certification

Last night I was watching “How William Shatner Changed the World” and noted that one of the points was that computers and the internet are the bastions of all information.  That is true.  Even with CPR, the internet has emerged as a strong resource.  You can search YouTube for videos on how to do CPR.  You can find newspaper articles online from around the world that tell the stories of lives saved with early CPR and AED use.  You can even find CPR training online.

This last one can be confusing.  If you want CPR knowledge ‘just because’ sure, online certifications aren’t that bad and can be a cheap way to get information.  However, if you need CPR training for your job-online training is a quagmire that you can easily become lost in-wasting time and money.  Here is what you need to know:

1)  Most employers/licensing agencies want the American Heart Association training.  And yes, there is an Online option!

2)  Go to the AHA Online Training website:

3)  Find the training you need.  Heartsaver AED with First Aid?  Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers?

4)  Pay the AHA to take the Online course-commonly called “Online Part 1.”

****Now the hard part-getting your certification****

5)  Visit the AHA ECC Class Connector:

6)  Search for a “Skills Session” using your zipcode.  This is most effective if you search for Scheduled Classes.  Some AHA Training Centers/Sites do not offer Skills Sessions.

7)  Once you find a Skills Session that works with your schedule-call the Training Center! This is important.  You want to make sure that the session will happen (some centers will cancel classes for low-enrollment). You also want to get a sense for the people you will be dealing with.  Are they friendly?  Do they seem to know what a Skills Session is?  Do you have to go through 4 people to get an answer?

8)  Now-register for your Skills Session.  The AHA Skills Session will cover Parts 2 & 3 of the AHA Online Training Program. Basically, this a review of the Skills, you demonstrating CPR skills and the instructor answering any questions you might have.

9)  The Training Center/Site will send you an e-mail explaining payment.  Yes, you have to pay for the Skills Session!  This is not included in the price of Online Part 1!

10)  Bring your Online Part 1 Certificate to the Skills Session and wow the instructor with your CPR skills. Done-you will receive your certification card and be on your way.  You receive the same card as someone who sat in class for 6 hours-how easy was that!

Safety Education Specialists offers AHA Skills Sessions several times a week and on weekends in Ashburn, VA.  Registering is easy-simply find a session that works with your schedule and follow the link!  Here is a link to our Calendar:

Some words of caution:

Beware of training companies who say they “use AHA Guidelines” or have “AHA Instructors.”  This is NOT the same as being an Authorized AHA Training Center or Training Site.  If in doubt, call the organization and ask if they are an Authorized AHA Training Center or Training Site.  It is your money-spend it on training that will meet your needs.

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Why In-house CPR/AED training is a bad idea

There are certain sounds that make my skin crawl.  Nails on a chalkboard (the rare chalkboard still in existence), a barking dog at 3am, and the phone call where the voice on the other end says “Our organization wants to train our employees to be AHA instructors so that they can train our people.”  I think the last one is the worst.

Sure, it can seem like a good idea to have an in-house instructor team.  Especially for organizations with large amounts of employees to train or odd work-hours.  But, before your decide that paying a CPR training company $100+ per student is a bad idea, consider a few things:

1)  You have to pay for all your instructor’s training, updates, monitoring, cards, supplies, equipment, insurance.

2)  You have to pay your instructor to attend training, updates, monitoring etc…

3) And, you still expect that employee to perform their original job.  This is an unreasonable expectation.  Teaching CPR is a full-time job!

Suddenly, when you add up the hidden costs-overtime, supplies, maintenance to equipment, insurance, training/maintaining the instructor(s), the savings just aren’t there.  The, let’s consider a policy or price change.  The cost of supplies can change at anytime-if you have your own insructors-you just blew your budget estimates buddy!  However, if you had a training company under-contract, your budget stays intact.

Top it off with-your instructor is not as good as my instructor.  I guarantee it.

This is why Professional, private-sector AHA training companies exist!  We take care of all the expenses associated with training.  Everything from the cost of training our instructors to the cleaning supplies we use to maintain our equipment.  Is it cheap?  No-and it shouldn’t be.  If someone is offering to train your staff in AHA CPR/AED and First Aid for $20.00 per student-RUN!  But, if you truly care about and want quality, along with control over your budget, outsourcing your training to a legitimate AHA training company is your best option.

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Happy CPR/AED Week!

ImageHappy CPR/AED Week!

SES would like to send a heartfelt Thank-You to all of our Clients who have learned CPR in the past year.

We are proud of each and every one of you.  Congratulations to all those who used their CPR/AED Skills.

To learn sign-up for a CPR/AED class, visit our website: , or, check to find an AHA class near you.

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“Do you sell AEDs?”

This is a question we are asked during nearly every class.  People are naturally curious about this amazing device-the Automated External Defibrillator.  An easy to use box that seems to literally shock people back to life!  (A more detailed explanation to follow in another post)

It seems like a no-brainer right?  Teach CPR, sell an AED.  The two go hand in hand.  Functionally, yes!  If you are performing CPR, you need to use an AED.

However, teaching and selling are two very different things.

Safety Education Specialists, an authorized American Heart Association Training Site, is devoted to education.  That’s why it’s in our name.  Not CPR.  Not AED.  Not First Aid.  Simply…Education.

Our goal is to provide the public with the knowledge to use any AED they see, to provide them with the comfort to approach a powerful device with confidence,…to use an AED when it is needed.

We feel that our reputation as un-biased educators would be compromised if we sold an AED to a client.  Many companies that sell AEDs have agreements with manufacturers-they must sell a certain number of AEDs in a year to keep that agreement in place.  Therefore, their opinion regarding the model of AED you-the client-needs is biased.

Training companies that sell AEDs are not wrong-they are many times either trying to expand their revenue stream or just make an AED they think is the best accessible.  Nothing wrong with that!

However, at Safety Education Specialists, we have decided not to enter into any such agreements in order to maintain our un-biased stance.  We can service your AED.  We can tell you how many AEDs your building/situation would need.  We can even analyze your situation and make product recommendations (do you really want to press the shock button, or would you rather the machine do it?) – We will tell you which AEDs may best fit your specific needs.

AEDs are not one-size-fits all.  Variety and a competitive market has made a vast array of devices available at (fairly) affordable price points.  We like to give our customers the honest, un-biased opinion and education.

You know what?  Our customers appreciate us all the more for it.

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To Other Instructors–a little class please

This is an Open Letter to fellow CPR Instructors:

Dear fellow Instructors,

Can’t we all just get along?  There is more than enough business to go around, so how about if you act with class.

I do not spend my days trolling around Google clicking on other company’s ads trying to make them spend money on clicks.

I do not “faux-register” for a class with the name “Ha Ha.”

If you want to know about me-just ask.

If you want to work with me-just ask.

If you want to know how much I charge for a class-just ask.

The lowest price in town doesn’t last long my friend, neither does the sneak nor the petty fool. 

Please don’t sneak around and try to play with my roster numbers.  I can see what you are doing and frankly, it’s a bit pathetic.  I don’t mess with you, so please don’t play dirty with me.

A wise instructor once told me:  If you are in this business for the money-you will not last long.  If you are in this business to help people save lives-you will never go hungry.

So, to whomever is feeling threatened enough to start messing with me, understand this-I feel sympathy for you.  I will not call you out by name.  I will not bad-mouth you to other people.  Instead, I will chose the higher road.

We have always been available to give you advice.  We have taken your phone calls asking questions about policies and procedures.  We have guided you and tried to find a happy place for you.  I’m sorry you don’t see that.

In closing, to my fellow instructors, be careful.  Look to all the David vs. Goliath stories.  Guess who wins.  You may be aligned with Goliath, but this little David isn’t going away.

Sincerely Saving Lives,


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How do I become an AHA Instructor?

This is a question we get a lot.  No really, A Lot!  It seems that every business wants to make an in-house person an instructor thinking “wow, this will really save us some money!”

Yes,…and No.  Usually, No.

Sure, it seems like a cost-savings.  If you glance at a typical Instructor course flyer, the price seems pretty low:  ‘$299 and you too can be an American Heart Association Instructor!’  That is, until you look closely.  First, you have to find an Authorized AHA Training Center that will sponsor you.  Then, you have to buy the Instructor Course materials (about $25.00).  Top that off with DVDs for each class you want to teach (about $200.00), Instructor Manuals for each class (about $150.00), and then you have to be monitored by a member of AHA Regional Faculty or a Training Center Faculty member (costs can be upwards of $250.00 plus expenses).  Gosh, but how can you teach without equipment?  Now you have to buy manikins (at least $300.00 for a set, upwards of $500 per manikin if you want to get fancy–don’t forget the Infant manikins!).  Bag-Valve Masks?  (about $50.00)  CPR Masks?  (another $50.00)

But wait, there’s more!  You have to buy certification cards for your students (up to $15.00 per card!)  Every two years, you have to attend an Instructor Update and be re-monitored (about $250.00 and $250.00 respectively).  And-you must teach a minimum of 2 courses per year to remain active.  Oh-and buy some liability insurance while you are at it!

Suddenly, that $299 Instructor course is more expensive than originally thought.  Maybe hiring that local Training Company is more cost-effective.  For most businesses, putting their own employee through an Instructor course and purchasing all the necessary accoutrement is not a good option.

Who should do an Instructor Course?  If your business or agency has thousands of people to train in any given year, than yes-after the initial bill for training and supplies, it is cost-savings to go in-house.  Otherwise, leave the training to the professionals please.

It takes more than buying a cheap DVD or guidebook every two years for an AHA instructor to stay working.  This is why many authorities specify American Heart Association training.  The amount of re-education, dedication and oversight leads to an end-product that is more consistent and reliable.

Instructing is a full-time job.  This is a grave responsibility that should not used as an add-on for a gym teacher or administrative nurse.  The best classes are taught by those who are passionate about teaching!

Bottom-line:  Ask a Training Center:  how much does this really cost?  How much are the ‘accessories?’

***All prices are an average for my own region.  Prices vary based on market, region etc…These prices do not reflect SES pricing for courses and/or supplies and we do not intend to reflect upon anyone elses pricing or information***

Posted in AED, AED Safety, CPR Class, CPR in the Real World, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Operating so close to hospitals, I get a lot of students who are nurses, doctors or technicians that could be trained for free by their hospital. So, why do they spend the money and come to me for their AHA BLS (Basic Life Support) training?
1) Those free classes fill up fast! Without a current card, people can’t work-so it is worth it to spend some money and get certified fast.
2) The classes are offered on a limited schedule (usually only 2 or 3 times a month). Our paid classes are offered frequently with Skills Checks almost daily and by appointment.
3) The free class is located several miles away or in another inconvenient location.  With gas prices being so high in the Northern Virginia area, the cost to drive is higher than ever.

Here is another tidbit you may not realize: The people teaching those “free” classes are not always hospital employees. It was recently discovered that a local hospital has outsourced their free classes to a company from another state!  (What happened to supporting local small business?)

We always tell our students-hey, we can’t beat “free” dollar for dollar, BUT, if you want a class that is close to you-works entirely with your schedule-and is less-expensive than some other options–call Safety Education Specialists.  One of my favorite compliments is a student who has the option of a free class saying “this is so worth the money!  I’m coming to you every time!”

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