Your Virginia teaching license now requires First Aid, CPR and AED training…now what?

Congratulations-you are a teacher (or soon to be), teacher with the State of Virginia, ready to take on the role of inspiration and intellectual GPS for thousands of students.  But, don’t get too excited.  As of July 1, 2013, all Virginia teachers must have First Aid, CPR and AED training.  As a parent, I am overjoyed that now the people who have responsibility for my children for several hours each day will have the training to save their lives.  I believe this is a change to the law long over due.

As a Virginia American Heart Association Training Site, I have received a lot of questions from teachers about this certification.  Do I have to take a class?  Is Online training OK?  Do I have to see an instructor?  Will the online class for $19.99 be OK?  I have reviewed the law, reviewed the Department of Education of Virginia’s website, and all the FAQ documents and statements.  Here are the answers all of my teachers have been looking for:

1)  Do I have to take a class?  Yes, you have to take some form of training, which the State of Virginia states “The certification or training program must be based on the current national evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator, such as a program developed by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.”  (see source 1)  Virginia is basing it’s recognition of a suitable program on American Heart Association and/or American Red Cross standards.  This vital piece of the puzzle will come into play later.

2)  Is Online training ok?  Yes, and No.  Though the FAQ sent out by the Superintendent on June 7, 2013, states:  “Online training or certification that includes emergency first aid, CPR, and the use of AEDs that is based on the current national evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and the use of an automated external defibrillator, such as a program developed by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross, may be accepted to meet this requirement.” (See Source 2) This is a grey area, namely due to the use of the word “may.”  Remember that the law already states that it must meet American Heart Association or American Red Cross requirements.  Both of these programs offer Online based training.  However, taking only the course Online does not mean you are certified.

3)  Do I have to see an instructor?  Yes, you do.  This question may also be presented as-do I have to do hands-on training.  In order to meet American Heart Association and/or American Red Cross guidelines, you MUST take a hands-on component to all training.  Whether part of the course was completed Online or not, until you have training with an instructor, you are not issued a certification card.  But, let’s see what the superintendent has to say:  “No. The legislation does not specifically state that the license holder must have “hands on” training.”  (See Source 2)  But, in order to satisfy the “current national evidence-based emergency cardiovascular care guidelines” “such as a program developed by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross” Certification is not earned until you complete the hands-on component.  Could you perhaps slip the Online Part 1 Completion Certificate past the authorities and have your training ‘recognized.’  Perhaps-but, on the bottom of your online print out, it says “This certificate does not constitute a successful completion of the full Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED Online course.  A skills practice and testing session, conducted by an American Heart Association Instructor is required in order to receive an American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED Course Completion Card.  Skills practice and testing must be completed within 60 days from the date below.”  (See Source 3)  Source 3 is a pdf of an actual Online Part 1 Completion Certificate (personal information blocked out to protect privacy).

Even beyond the American Heart Association and American Red Cross, OSHA does not recognize Online Only training as training.  OSHA requires that students have a hands-on component to secure the physical skill of performing CPR.  “Online training alone would not meet the requirements of these training standards. The word “train” is defined as “[t]o make proficient with special instruction and practice,” Webster’s II New Collegiate Dictionary, 1995, p. 1,169. These standards require training in physical skills, such as bandaging and CPR. The only way these physical skills can be learned is by actually practicing them. OSHA’s Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program, 2006, p. 11, states that a first-aid training program should have trainees develop hands-on skills through the use of mannequins and partner practice.” (See Source 4)

4)  Will the online class for $19.99 be OK?  No.  The courses that you see offered online for a tiny amount of money are fraudulent.  Even though they may state that they are based on national American Heart Association Guidelines-the American Heart Association does not allow the use of their guidelines.  Take a look at this fraud warning issued by the American Heart Association:  

  • A number of websites claim to provide online training, including CPR training that is “AHA Compliant” even though the organizations are not American Heart Association-authorized training centers. These sites may claim to offer online training with no skills checks or instant electronic course cards available upon completion of the online training.

The American Heart Association does not approve training courses created by other organizations, does not allow its course completion cards to be given to students who do not complete the skills check portion of American Heart Association training, and there are no “AHA-compliant” training courses or “AHA-certified” professionals conducting training. An organization that has been approved to issue cards with the AHA logo upon successful completion of an AHA training course should display the “Authorized Training Center” logo to help you know they are authorized. You should check with your present or prospective employer about the course completion cards they will accept before paying anyone for training intended to gain or retain your training status.”  (See Source 5)

So, in summary, take an actual training course (classroom or online based), by an actual instructor.  Verify their credentials, ask questions.  Don’t waste your money on a cheap imitation.  Training the right way takes so little time and effort-why do people look for the short-cut?  You are charged with protecting the lives of children-doesn’t it make sense to not cut corners and do it the right way?


Source 1:

Source 2:

Source 3:  

Source 4:

Source 5:



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Avoid Thanksgiving Safety Disasters-10 rules to prevent holiday injury & illness!

T minus 48 hours until the grand Turkey Dinner.  Hopefully by now you have purchased your turkey and all the trimmings.  To get you through the holiday safely, the team at Safety Education Specialists has some tips for you to avoid a Safety Disaster…

1)  Thaw your Turkey, and thaw it properly.  This means that you should have your turkey in the refrigerator thawing by now.  Do not leave it on the counter to defrost.  This will allow the outer layers of the bird to thaw too quickly, leaving it susceptible to bacteria and microbes.

2)  Use a thermometer.  I don’t care if you stuff your bird, or do the dressing thing-just please use a thermometer on all of your dishes.  Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, pie…everything.  Under-cooked food is a leading cause of food-borne illness in the home.

3)  Clean your kitchen, but watch that mop!  You should have a clean kitchen to cook in.  This means wiping down counters with disinfectant and segregating your cutting boards (watch that raw meat and veggies!!).  But, please be careful when you mop.  Do not mop and then try to run into the kitchen to rescue your burning pies!  Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of household injury.

4)  Sharpen your knives.  No, this is not a solution to the in-laws, but, dull knives require more pulling/pushing to use and this leads to slippage and cuts.  Sharp knives slice through food “like butter” and make accidental finger slicing a thing of the past.

5)  Pull your hair and sleeves back.  You will be near a stove-top and oven.  This is a fire hazard when you mix long hair/long sleeves with open-flame/high heat cooking.  We all want to look cute while we cook, but this is one time that flowing boho sleeves are not a good idea.  Speaking of fashion, stilettos are also on the no-no list (this is the hardest for me)

6)  Keep children and pets out of the kitchen!  Unless the children are helping with dinner preparation, keep them out of the kitchen.  Keep the pets out too–in fact, set them up in front of the TV to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades and give yourself some space.  You are flinging knives, moving hot things in and out of the oven, please keep the creatures out.

7)  Use cooking mitts to take things out of the oven.  Avoid burns.  If you are burned, run the burned area under cool water until the pain subsides.  If it blisters, DO NOT pop them.  If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.

8)  Schedule your time.  A trick I use every year is to count back from when dinner will be served.  If dinner is at 4 pm, and the turkey will take 5 hours, I know to have it in the oven by 10 am (this allows for resting).  Stagger your other oven items throughout the day to ensure that you are not hurried and harried.  Chaos in the kitchen leads to accidents and injury.

9)  When eating, chew your food.  Don’t talk and chew.  This leads to choking.  No one likes to give or receive the Heimlich maneuver-especially on a holiday.

And Last:  10)  Take the time to give thanks that you made it through the day, accident-free, with your family/friends/pets or any combination thereof.  Give Thanks for another year.  Gratitude is good for the soul.

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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.

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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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