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CPR: recapturing the human edge.

In this time of lay-offs, plant closures and downsizing, it should come as no surprise that some employees are cynical about whether their employers truly care about their well being.

But some corporations have not only managed to get the message across that they care, but have happier, healthier and safer workers to boot! Their secret weapon? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR.

Strange as it may sound, many companies report that offering a course in this life-saving emergency skill has brought employees and managers closer together, given staff a greater sense of well-being AND equipped them with a valuable skill that can be used at home or at work. Not only that, the course is short and inexpensive.

CPR courses teach people to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, to ease the victim's distress and initiate the emergency response by calling 911 immediately, and to begin CPR if the victim's breathing and heartbeat stop. The skill can be used on adults and children in many other sudden death emergencies including electrocution and some respiratory emergencies. The course also teaches what to do if someone chokes.

At Mutual Life in Waterloo, Ontario, CPR courses were instituted as a part of a wellness program package - to not only show that the company cares, but to try to ensure that workers are healthy, says John Dinner, External Relations Manager in Mutual Life's Public Affairs Department. "Promoting healthy lifestyles is really our business; if people live healthy lives they benefit, and as an organization, we benefit as well."

In fact, says Dinner, 920 of Mutual's 2,000 head office employees have taken CPR since 1983. Aware of the astonishing number of Canadians who die each year of heart attacks (a whopping 50,000!), the company aims to train two-thirds of all employees in life-saving CPR. Moreover, CPR is one of the most popular courses a company can offer. Dinner reports that when the first courses were offered at Mutual in 1983-84, they were full within two hours of notices being posted!

Adds June Blake, Health & Safety Coordinator for J.M. Schneider's Kitchener, Ontario plant: "We've always been employee oriented, offered the best programs and cared for them. The company has been very supportive (of CPR training). It is just good public relations."

CPR courses cost between $25 and $40 per person. Most companies pay for the course and offer it on company time. Others offer the course half on company time, half on employee time.


Each year, 50,000 Canadians die of heart attacks, half of them before they even reach hospital. Up to 30 percent of those who die out of hospital can be saved if someone at the scene knows how to perform CPR and if paramedics begin advanced life support (ALS) within six to eight minutes after the collapse.

With so many people in the workforce, companies are an ideal avenue through which to offer CPR. The non-profit Advanced Coronary Treatment (ACT) Foundation promotes Citizen CPR training and the need for paramedics. Most of ACT's sponsors within the research intensive pharmaceutical industry have eagerly embraced the Corporate CPR concept. These CPR advocates include Astra Pharma, Bristol Myers-Squibb, Ciba-Geigy Canada, Glaxo Canada, Merck Frosst Canada, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, SmithKline Beecham and others. Other companies big on CPR include Avon, Bell Canada, CBR Cement, Consumers Gas, Gillette, Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd., McCain Foods, Moore Corporation, Mutual Life Inc. and Procter & Gamble.

More and more companies are offering CPR training to all of their employees as part of a trend toward better corporate citizenship and a concern for employee health and safety. What better way to show corporate concern than to give employees the opportunity to learn to save a life! In addition, CPR trained employees establish a firm base for an emergency response program in house.

Current Ontario health and safety regulations stipulate only one in 200 employees must be trained in first aid, which may or may not include CPR. In Quebec, one in every 50 employees must be CPR trained. Imagine trying to find a properly trained person in an emergency, when every second counts! Valuable time is lost searching for those few trained people who might not even be in the building. Heart attacks don't respect lunch breaks.

But the benefits of CPR training extend beyond the workplace. Most heart attacks or choking incidents occur at home; CPR trained employees take their skills with them wherever they go. A manager or employee who helps save a life on or off the job, thanks to in-house CPR training, deserves accolades - and so does the company which instituted the program.

Courses are offered by St. John Ambulance, the Canadian Red Cross Society, YM/YWCAs, community colleges and private agencies. Usually the above agencies need two or three weeks lead time to set up a course. Upon successful completion of the course, participants receive a Heart and Stroke Foundation CPR certificate. Participants also retain a handout explaining CPR which is useful for periodic reviews.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Author:Dow, Leslie Smith
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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