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Red Cross Training Helps Save Lives

First Aid Training
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 Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services to learn lifesaving skills.

Each year, more than 6.25 million people receive Red Cross training and information in first aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives.

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 should be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in an emergency until help arrives.

The Red Cross offers classes to help people prepare for disasters at home, at school or at their 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.

There are also free Red Cross Apps available for mobile devices that give people tools they can use every day to help be prepared, stay safe and save lives.

The Red Cross also conducts programs to help organizations 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 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/AED and babysitting classes each year. OSHA compliant training and other courses help meet the needs of those in the workplace or schools, professional responders, healthcare providers, caregivers and the general public. Training offerings include online simulation learning classes and in-class courses. The Red Cross has developed a First Aid App and a Pet First Aid App for cat and dog owners.

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 and established the Red Cross Lifesaving Corps.

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 100 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. The Red Cross launched an Aquatics Centennial Campaign on May 20, 2014 to reduce drownings over the next three to five years. The campaign seeks to cut the drowning rate by 50 percent in 50 communities where the drowning rate is high or there are a large number of drownings. The goal is to teach people of all ages to be competent in the water and to know how to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies. Developing qualified lifeguards and swim instructors in these communities is also a priority for long-term sustainability.

Over the years, Water Safety Instructor authorizations have been issued to tens of 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. Hundreds of thousands of Red Cross trained lifeguards have been protecting people from drowning at pools, waterparks and waterfronts across the nation. Today, portions of Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructor courses have online simulation learning components and millions of people take swimming classes and download the Red Cross Swim App for tips on how to stay safe in and around the water.

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 and Health and Safety Services works tirelessly to see that this vision is fulfilled.

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.