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Red Cross Teaches Skills That Can Save A Life

Millions turn to Preparedness, Health and Safety Services for training.

For more than a century, the American Red Cross has been training people in this country with the skills they need to act if an emergency strikes. Today people turn to the Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services to learn a skill that could save a life.

Each year, more than 3.5 million people learn how to prepare for disasters through the Red Cross. More than seven million people receive Red Cross training every year in first aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives. And keeping up with modern technology, Red Cross classes are available through digital media and more than eleven million people take advantage of this online training.

BE PREPARED Responding to disasters over the years, especially large catastrophes like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods has taught the lesson that the combined resources of the government, community organizations and the Red Cross will never be big enough to do it all in every disaster. Every person, business, school and house of worship must be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in an emergency.

The Red Cross offers classes to help people prepare for disasters at home, in school or in the workplace. In addition to training for households and groups, information is also available on steps people can take to remain safe in different types of disasters that may occur where they live or vacation. Free Red Cross Apps are available for mobile devices that put real-time safety information at people’s fingertips.

The Red Cross also conducts several programs to help people be prepared. Ready Rating™ is a free, web-based program designed to help businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a self assessment of their current readiness level and receive immediate, customized feedback with resources to improve their scores. First Aid Emergency Drills help businesses train their staff for emergencies and disasters. The “Ready When the Time Comes” program trains employees from corporations and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes. “Be Red Cross Ready” is a web-based, interactive training program that teaches people how to be ready for emergencies. This tutorial includes a video featuring Jamie Lee Curtis showing people how to customize their emergency kits.

FIRST AID Prompted by the startling number of accidental deaths, the Red Cross created its new First Aid Department more than one hundred years ago and named Major Charles Lynch its director on October 9, 1909. The following year the Pullman Company donated a railroad car for the Red Cross to use around the country as a classroom for first aid instruction.

According to an historical account of Red Cross first aid activities, more than 98,000 accidental deaths occurred in 1934. The Red Cross First Aid Department trained thousands of instructors, many attached to police and fire departments, telephone and other utility companies and many other commercial groups. There were as many as 8,000 instructors registered and most were volunteers. Eventually the number of instructors became sufficient to meet the increasing demand for first aid classes across the country.

Today communities across the country are safer because millions of people take Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED classes each year. Red Cross training can meet the needs of those in the workplace or schools, professional responders and healthcare providers, as well as the general public. There are classes for coaches and a wilderness first aid class designed for scouts and their leaders, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who works or spends time in remove environments. There is even training available for first aid for the family cat or dog.

WATER SAFETY At the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of people dying from drowning was mounting and had the potential to become a national tragedy unless new safety initiatives were soon introduced. Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow saw the need for a nationwide program of swimming and lifesaving training and engaged in a one-man crusade to see this occur.

In 1914 he enlisted the full participation of the Red Cross to ensure the success of his aim, "the waterproofing of America." On February 1, 1914, Longfellow began the Red Cross Water Safety program.

During the next 33 years, Longfellow worked with devotion and enthusiasm in the nationwide water safety program of the Red Cross. The results were astonishing: He saw the nation's drowning rate cut in half and witnessed a tremendous upsurge in the popularity of swimming, boating and other water activities, to the point where an estimated 80 million Americans were participating in some form of aquatic recreation.

After more than 90 years, the Red Cross water safety program, whose early history is largely the story of the Commodore's contribution through the Red Cross, can point to a proud record. Water safety instruction authorizations have been issued to thousands of trained and qualified persons who, in turn, have taught courses enabling the Red Cross to issue millions of certificates in swimming and lifesaving to individuals successfully completing its courses

Today millions of people take swimming classes and follow Red Cross information on how to stay safe around the water. Fact sheets are available on Home Pool Safety, Choosing a Safe Place to Swim, Responding to a Water Emergency, Watching Children Around Water, Water Safety in the Home and other topics. Red Cross training is also available for becoming a lifeguard with special classes for lifeguards who work on waterfronts or in water parks.

Part of the vision of the American Red Cross is to ensure our communities are ready and prepared for disasters, and that there are always trained individuals available to use their Red Cross skills to save lives in an emergency. Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services works tirelessly to see that this vision is fulfilled.

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About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.