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Red Cross Teaches Skills That Save Lives

Don’t wait until after an emergency to learn these vital lifesaving skills. The life you save may be that of a friend of family member.

The effectiveness of American Red Cross training comes down to whether course takers are sufficiently equipped and ready to act when the need arises.

For workers at a Halliburton oil-drilling wellsite in Colorado, their training saved a colleague from an untimely death.

Halliburton employee Dan Malone’s radio came alive with the urgent voice of a colleague at the well site: worker Mathew Enriquez had collapsed and wasn’t breathing. When co-workers arrived onsite, fellow employee Don Walker was kneeling over Enriquez, talking to him and trying to bring him around.

Malone heard a heartbeat but could detect no pulse at his wrist. “I knew that meant he was in fibrillation – having a heart attack,” Malone told the Halliburton employee newsletter later. “He was turning blue with his eyes rolled back.”

Malone and Walker, who had been certified by the Red Cross, quickly went to the man’s aid, conducting chest compressions and rescue breathing until an ambulance made it out to the wellsite 30 minutes later. Enriquez was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital, and survived

Last October Eric Myers, executive director of the Red Cross of Western Colorado, presented Malone and Walker with the American Red Cross National Certificate of Merit, the highest lifesaving award given by the Red Cross, for voluntarily using their skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross health and safety course to save or sustain a life. The award bears the signature of the President of the United States.

“Medical emergencies arrive when and where they want whether it’s miles or minutes from the nearest hospital,” said Myers during his presentation. “Thanks to their Red Cross CPR training, these two heroes were willing and able to keep Matt alive for the 50 minutes it took for help to reach the Greeley well site.”

Being prepared for emergencies is always good policy. The Red Cross began its First Aid department in 1909 in response to nearly 100,000 accidental deaths that occurred annually. The next year, the Red Cross offered first aid training across the country in a donated Pullman railroad car with the help of more than 8,000 instructors, the majority of whom were volunteers.

Today the Red Cross trains more than 5.6 million people a year in lifesaving skills, offering a wide variety of courses for homes and workplaces where bystanders may be called upon to respond to emergencies:

  • First Aid, CPR and AED use for adults and children
  • Lifeguarding
  • Learn-to-Swim for people of all ages and diverse abilities
  • Babysitting and Child Care
  • Courses can be found at

    The Red Cross also operates a free program to help businesses be prepared in the event of a disaster. The web-based Ready Rating™ program is 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.

    It’s easy to adopt an “it-won’t-happen-to-me” mentality, but consider the advice Red Cross chapter executive Myers gives: “Don’t wait until after an emergency to learn these vital lifesaving skills. The life you save may be that of a friend of family member.”

    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.